Further grist for the Atlantology mill—though not outlandish, it’s an intriguing stretch, from British cartographer Allen. Figure that Plato was telling it straight when he referred to Atlantis as a continent outside the Pillars of Hercules, Allen suggests. That would make it the Americas. Now, where thereabouts could a place like Plato described (the great rectangular plain encircled by hills, the fabulous city island encrusted with precious metals, all that rain) be found? Allen makes a bid for the Bolivian Altiplano, beneath the sands of the remote desert bordering Lake Poopo: He likes the fact that there is a nice big plain that used to be a great lake, that gold and copper and silver and tin are in abundance nearby (perhaps the wondrous orichalcum too, and then there are those seductive links to El Dorado), that “atl” means water in the Aztec Nahuatl tongue, and “antis” is Incan for copper. Most of all he likes a series of possible colossal irrigation ditches that conform to Plato’s 100-stade intervals. Ancient systems of measurement are Allen’s pet topic, and his discussion of barleycorns and Saxon feet is the best material in the book. These and a host of other potential convergences are enough to raise an eyebrow on an Atlantis enthusiast. But then Allen starts trotting out such qualifiers as, “Now suppose that in the translation there should be an error so fundamental and simple as this” (in regard to Plato’s comment that Atlantis was swallowed up in a single day); later Allen starts tinkering with Plato’s measurements (cutting some in half, and then blaming it on Solon, who in making his story more agreeable to his readers confused old and new systems of measurement). As ever, fiddle here and twiddle there with Plato’s description, and you can situate Atlantis just about anywhere. And while Allen’s theory has launched an international expedition—he too has tampered with the evidence, tarnishing its magic. (8 pages color, 62 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-21923-7

Page Count: 185

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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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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