OEDIPUS AND AKHNATON

MYTH AND HISTORY

Velikovsky is a controversial figure, whether writing about Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos (which do not seem so remote as when he envisioned them)- or today with his provocative theory relating to the Oedipus legend. This is an ingenious and often entertaining and persuasive attempt to equate the myth of King Oedipus with the historical facts about the great Egyptian reformer-king, Akhnaton, Egypt's builder of a monotheistic cult. The drive behind this book is the finding of an historical basis for a familiar myth. Just as Schliemann by his excavations at Troy turned Helen from a legend into a woman of flesh and blood, so Velikovsky approaches the Oedipus myth. The key facets of the myth- the exiled prince who returns to his native land not (even Velikovsky admits) to slay his father but to marry his mother, and who brought destruction thereby upon his native land and was sent forth discredited — can be made, with a bit of pushing and pulling, to apply to the similar story of Akhnaton. Part of the claim is that Thebes in Greece took its name from the older Thebes in Egypt. The Egyptian story is loose and inexact, as reality is apt to be; the Greek myth is tightened by the Greek gift for story telling. It will be for scholars and Egyptologists to explore Velikovsky's thesis. His scholarship in this field has yet to be proved, though as usual he has used his theme as a book to hang his very considerable fund of knowledge and his inexhaustible fancies on. He writes with imagination and style. This book, however controversial, is certainly entertaining. It may even serve to take readers back to Sophocles.

Pub Date: March 23, 1960

ISBN: 0671831933

Page Count: 255

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1960

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

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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