A detailed account of theatrical pageants celebrating one of the most sumptuous weddings of Renaissance Italy. Ferdinando de' Medici had been a cardinal since age 14 and was known as a religious reformer and a patron of the arts. The death of his elder brother forced him to leave the church to rescue the dynasty from extinction. His marriage to Christine de Lorraine cemented an important political alliance and brought Florence an enormous dowry from the French. Saslow (Art History/Queens College) guides us through the ten months of preparations for the events and the actual pageants, which began with Christine's arrival at Livorno on April 24 and lasted until June 8. Attractions included triumphal entries, mock naval battles against the Turks, and a soccer match. Saslow is particularly interested in the series of intermedi, which were allegorical tableaux inserted between the acts of comedies in the Medici Theater. They involved the use of instrumental music, song, dance, and splendid costumes and stage designs, and they featured classical characters, such as nymphs and shepherds, Bacchus and Apollo, and the figures of Rhythm and Harmony—all glorifying the ruling couple and wishing them offspring. Saslow is a conscious admirer of Michel Foucault (he tends to write like him), and he interprets this rich material both as fine art and as an artifact of social and political control. Drawing on published texts, sketches, paintings and prints (many of which are superbly reproduced here), and manuscript sources, such as stage manager Girolamo Seriacopi's daily production logbook, our author explores such details of backstage life as salaries, working conditions, and the incipient roles of women. Valuable reading for students of Renaissance society and the performing arts.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-300-06447-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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