A unique addition to World War II literature, loaded with details of clandestine European prewar political and financial...




Bahney (Stealing Sisi’s Star, 2015) returns to the subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for this dual biography of Archduchess Marie Valerie, daughter of the Empress Elisabeth, and of Princess Stephanie, mistress of Marie Valerie’s husband.

In 1890, Marie Valerie “renounced her right to the Austro-Hungarian throne” to marry a man beneath her station, the man she loved, her cousin Archduke Franz Salvator. Twenty-four years later, Salvator’s philandering resulted in the elevation of a young woman from a middle-class Jewish family to the rank of princess. He had engaged in a passionate affair with Stephanie Richter, who had a penchant for powerful men, and the affair resulted in a pregnancy. To save his daughter the embarrassment of her husband’s scandalous behavior, the aging Emperor Franz Joseph arranged a hasty marriage for Stephanie to a lesser German prince. And so, Stephanie Richter became Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, wife of Friedrich Franz, giving her a title and entry to the highest levels of European society. Although Friedrich Franz divorced Stephanie in 1920—much to her delight—he let her retain the title of princess. In a bizarre historical twist, this title and her social connections enabled Stephanie to form a close friendship with Adolph Hitler. Bahney’s well-researched biography offers an engaging glimpse into the personal lives and political intrigues of the Austrian-Hungarian royals from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries. Although interesting, readers who aren’t avid fans of royalty will have difficulty keeping up with the vast cast of major and minor royal characters in the volume’s early sections. The bulk of the tale, however, belongs to Stephanie, who served as an effective propagandist for Hitler in the British press during the “appeasement” days before World War II. Bahney questions “how Stephanie Richter could deny her Jewish ancestry in order to voluntarily collude with Adolf Hitler.” The answer appears to be that Stephanie’s primary concerns in life were money, prestige, and powerful liaisons.

A unique addition to World War II literature, loaded with details of clandestine European prewar political and financial machinations about a decidedly unlikable, albeit savvy, historical figure.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4766-6872-7

Page Count: 230

Publisher: McFarland & Co.

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2018

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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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