A gossipy and rambling history of the legendary hotel, by Morehouse, former cultural critic for The Christian Science Monitor. Home to stars, retired generals, Presidents, and exiled royalty—a fact Morehouse repeats with irritating regularity—the present hotel on Park Avenue is a successor to the one built by William Waldorf Astor on the site of his home on Fifth Avenue. That first Waldorf, opening in 1893, soon became known as the ``mother of hotels''—the place for the rich to stay and New York society to socialize. As the fashionable crowd moved north, so did the hotel, opening in 1931, in the midst of the Depression, on its present site. (The old hotel was torn down and replaced by the Empire State Building.) Morehouse dutifully records all the tons of steel, cubic feet of imported marble, square feet of accommodation space, and costs—in fact, seemingly every bit of information, pertinent or not, that he can find. And in a sequence of confusing chapters, he introduces managers, owners, and employees, as well as gossip about the rich and famous who have stayed in the hotel and its Waldorf Towers suites, which have been home to the likes of Frank Sinatra, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Imelda Marcos, former President Hoover, and Cole Porter. Every illustrious entertainer who used to perform there, like Maurice Chevalier or Jack Benny, is also noted- -often—as are the great banquets and balls, especially the ``April in Paris'' extravaganzas of the 1950's, while no anecdote, however pedestrian, is left unrepeated. Somewhere lost in the muddle is a hotel with a great story still to tell. Less-than-titillating gossip, facts and figures of only passing interest, and a mass of disorganized material make this a book to be mined rather than read.

Pub Date: July 22, 1991

ISBN: 0-87131-663-3

Page Count: 258

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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