A solid contribution to early modern French history, this will prove of great interest to readers well versed in Napoleonic...




A study that gives due recognition to Napoleon Bonaparte’s influential but now-forgotten aides.

More books have been written on Napoleon, it is said, than on anyone else except Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ. Woloch (History/Columbia Univ.) acknowledges that there are scores of worthy full-scale biographies of the Corsican revolutionary-turned-tyrant, and he suggests that his readers turn to his only after reading any one of them. His study is a departure from the mainstream; apart from being uncommonly well-written, it urges us to consider that “Napoleon’s saga is not simply the story of a single man” and that his spectacular rise to supreme power came about through the efforts of many hands—from former servants of the monarchy to heroes and villains of the Revolution, from common soldiers and generals to bureaucrats and, of course, ordinary citizens. We know little about those participants in Napoleon’s career, Woloch suggests; apart from the diplomat Talleyrand and the secret policeman Fouché, few of Napoleon’s lieutenants have been given more than passing mention. The author attempts to remedy this by considering the work of various figures (including Boulay de la Meurthe and Théophile Berlier) who held widely divergent political views as republican members of the 1799 legislature but who served Napoleon with equal fervor following the Brumaire coup, as well as those (such as Regnaud de St. Jean d’Angély and Jean-Jacques-Régis Cambacérès) who collaborated with highly placed military officers to assure Napoleon’s transformation from general to consul to emperor, and others (like Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès) who helped Napoleon purge the government of former Jacobins. Unlike the revolutionaries of Robespierre and Danton’s time, Woloch observes, these men were moderate and centrist in inclination, dedicated to the “trappings of legality” and to the supremacy of the state, and shrewd enough to distance themselves from the emperor when his “gilded authoritarianism” became too much for the citizens of France to bear. Able administrators, the author observes that they even served as “a final, residual barrier to unchecked tyranny”—a despotism they helped bring about.

A solid contribution to early modern French history, this will prove of great interest to readers well versed in Napoleonic politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-393-05009-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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