Depicted with consistent brio, stormy seas become epic events.




Swashbuckling maritime history reanimated by a noted naval enthusiast.

Mystery writer and nautical historian Druett (Run Afoul, 2006, etc.) does great justice to the saga of two large ships, the Grafton and the Invercauld, both shipwrecked on the same remote South Pacific island in 1864. The first vessel, navigated by French gold miner Francois Raynal and skilled captain Thomas Musgrave, embarked on an adventurous, intrepid voyage southeast of Australia toward Campbell Island to collect a cache of silver-laden tin. Through hurricanes and sea squalls, the Grafton reached the island, but a sudden illness and inclement weather forced the ship to attempt a return to Sydney. In his journal, Musgrave wrote that on the journey home, the sea looked “as if it were boiling.” Swallowed by an immense storm, the schooner was pounded into the jagged reefs of uninhabited Auckland Island. Its crew scrounged for shelter and food (sea lion and bird flesh, pungently described) ashore, with a plumb view of the Grafton’s rain-soaked wreckage looming as a grim reminder. Through months of navigating rugged terrain, fighting raw conditions and swarms of stinging sand flies, the castaways worked together utilizing wood from the ship’s hull to erect a cabin. Meanwhile, Scottish square-rigger Invercauld, bound for South America with a crew of 25, was being ripped apart by the perilous reefs on the other side of Auckland Island. After a year and a half, the resourceful Grafton crew built a small vessel and sailed to New Zealand; the Invercauld crew, whittled down to three survivors, had to be rescued by a passing Spanish vessel. Druett excels at recreating the men’s struggles and desperation (tempered by boundless hope) with extensive quotations from their journals. She also offers engaging biographical information on the castaways, descriptions of the island’s animal population and general historical detail.

Depicted with consistent brio, stormy seas become epic events.

Pub Date: June 8, 2007

ISBN: 1-56512-408-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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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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