A genial historical tour conducted by an affectionate docent with a keen eye and an admiring though sometimes-admonitory...

BUENOS AIRES

THE BIOGRAPHY OF A CITY

A freelance journalist specializing in architecture debuts with a general architectural history of one of the world’s most intriguing cities.

Gardner, once the art critic for the New York Post, first visited Buenos Aires in 1999 and fell in love with the architectural diversity of the city. He acknowledges that his is not a scholarly approach, but it’s evident throughout that he has done a scholar’s homework. The author does some expected things—e.g., writing about the geographical and geological history of the pampas and a bit about the political history of the city, which both caused and is reflected by many of the city’s structures. Gardner notes that the city’s flatness encouraged the earliest settlers to lay out a strict grid with wide streets, an outline that remains. Proceeding chronologically, the author includes numerous photographs (readers will wish for more—and for city maps, which are oddly absent). His approach is generally more expository that judgmental, though he does not hesitate to praise the beautiful and disdain the less so, and he reserves some special venom for the historical period (last century) when dictators ruled and misruled. He necessarily deals with some economic history, as well, noting the slave markets from centuries past and showing how the country’s economy accelerated when refrigerated shipping made possible the lucrative trade in cattle. He also shows Argentina and its capital as hosts to myriads of immigrants. Although the author discusses some architectural terminology—beaux-arts, modernism, and the brutalist style—he is careful to explain and to give examples. At one point, commenting on the architectural beauty of much of the city, he comments that even the brothels were stylish. He describes waterfront development, the arrival of the railroad, and the building of the marginally necessary subway.

A genial historical tour conducted by an affectionate docent with a keen eye and an admiring though sometimes-admonitory message.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1137279880

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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