By turns fascinating and perplexing, the story serves as the perfect microcosm of what the “noble” art of dueling had become...

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THE LAST DUEL

A TRUE STORY OF DEATH AND HONOUR

An affronted merchant and his pugnacious banker meet on the field of honor with fatal results.

In 1826, one of the last recorded duels in Europe took place when reputable Scottish businessman David Landale challenged decommissioned officer and all-around rapscallion George Morgan, an agent for the Bank of Scotland. Their dispute stemmed from Morgan’s indiscreet sharing with various creditors of information pertaining to Landale’s financial problems after Landale, offended by the bank’s refusal to assist him during an economic depression, moved his account to a competing institution. At a time when a man’s reputation was as important as his wealth, if not more so, Landale soon faced a steady stream of creditors demanding repayment of loans as a result of Morgan’s imprudent and somewhat inaccurate revelations. Upon learning that Landale had written to Morgan’s superiors to complain of his ill usage, the agent accosted him in the street, whacking him across the back with an umbrella. Though less frequent than in times past, the duel was still a viable means for a gentleman to restore his honor in such circumstances, so Landale issued a challenge. When the two fought the next morning, the inexperienced Landale shot and killed Morgan. The author, a BBC correspondent and a descendant of Landale, interweaves into this personal narrative a riveting history of dueling, exploring its origins in the days when knights fought trials by combat and examining dueling customs throughout Europe and the United States.

By turns fascinating and perplexing, the story serves as the perfect microcosm of what the “noble” art of dueling had become by the mid-19th century: an outdated custom more likely to be a response to a petty slights than a redress for grievous wrongs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-84195-825-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Canongate

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2006

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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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