A surprisingly fresh and acerbic review of Brazil's early history, first published in 1907 and now translated into English for the first time. Capistrano de Abreu was one of Brazil's earliest historians of note, and he has remained an influential figure in Brazil down to the present time. A variety of events conspired to keep him from completing the major revisionist history of his country that he had planned. Chapters is the closest he came to a lengthy narrative history, and it is some testament to Capistrano de Abreu's considerable accomplishments as a historian that it remains a deeply persuasive work. After a brief survey of Brazil's geography, Capistrano de Abreu plunges with zest into the complex and often very bloody history of the long battle among European nations for control of Brazil's considerable resources. First claimed by Portuguese explorers (in 1500), Brazil soon became a pawn caught between Portugal and France. When France finally ceded control to Portugal, the Dutch attempted to seize considerable terrain. For almost two centuries Brazil was the site of invasions, sieges and countersieges, ambushes and battles. Caught in the middle, and generally getting the worst of events, were the indigenous tribes. Capistrano de Abreu does an admirable job of piecing together, from very incomplete records, the likely course of the many campaigns. He's equally good in tracing the sporadic pattern of settlement in the Brazilian interior, and surprisingly modern in his interests: There's a sensitivity to the fate of the Indian and a subtle stress on the transformation of the environment by farming. His angry descriptions of the destruction of the villages created by Indians who had been converted to Christianity by Jesuits, to supply additional product for Portuguese slavers, is memorable, as are his vivid portraits of life of the Brazilian frontier in the late 18th century. More a collection of independent essays than a thorough review, Chapters is nonetheless a lively portrait of Brazil's harsh, violent genesis.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-19-510301-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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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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