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THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

FROM ENLIGHTENMENT TO TYRANNY

An invaluable history of the French Revolution and its repercussions through the years.

What we don’t know about the French Revolution could fill a book; Davidson (Voltaire: A Life, 2010, etc.) has done just that—in spades.

In the 1780s, Louis XVI was running out of funds. His usual sources turned him down so he called the Estates General for the first time in nearly 200 years. The king allowed the Third Estate to have twice the delegates, as they represented more population. As such, those citizens finally found their voice and decried the separate meeting of the orders. Eventually, many clergy and some nobles joined them. No one notified the delegates that a meeting with the king was postponed, and this produced the Tennis Court Oath. As the king acceded to the Third Estate, the absolute monarchy simply fell over dead. The first three years of the revolution were reasonably peaceful, as most attempted to solve the eternal issues of bread and money. The dismissal of the cabinet led to anarchy, while the newly formed militia broke into the Bastille to retrieve arms. The National Assembly eliminated royal pensions, tax exemptions, and feudal privileges. With the end of class distinction, the ancient regime collapsed on Aug. 4, 1789. The assembly passed the Declaration of the Rights of Man, defined the nation as the source of sovereignty, overhauled local governments, instituted tax reform, and nationalized the church, with particularly devastating effect. The mob power unleashed by crowd hysteria over hunger and unemployment enabled the working class to assume power, leading to Robespierre and the reign of terror. Ultimately, the Revolution was a series of battles that continued until Napoleon took over. The revolutionaries had no plan or final destination; after 200 years, they’re still trying to get the Constitution right. Throughout the book, the author fills in the gaps in our knowledge about the revolution and its aftermath, and the helpful maps, graphics, and a timeline further illuminate the narrative.

An invaluable history of the French Revolution and its repercussions through the years.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-250-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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