An encyclopedic history of Scandinavia, her raiders, and the effect they had on world cultures—not necessarily a tale to...

NORTHMEN

THE VIKING SAGA, 793-1241

Dark Ages expert Haywood (Viking: The Norse Warrior's (Unofficial) Manual, 2013, etc.) sets out to chronicle the history of the Vikings, “an unprecedented phenomenon in European history…for the vast expanse of their horizons.”

The sagas were no doubt based on some facts, but many of the names belonged to the shadowy area between legend and history, and many of the cultures were illiterate. While the Viking Age is generally accepted to have run from the sack of Lindisfarne in 793 to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, the author asserts that they were actively raiding in Scandinavia and the Baltic more than a century earlier. Haywood’s lucid explanations of the cultures of the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians are vital to understanding the motivations for their movements. Their shallow draft boats allowed for speed—to quickly raid or escape from defenders and move to another victim. The Vikings were generally loyal to no one and happily accepted Christianity (with no intention of forsaking their pagan ways) and fought with locals against other raiders. For the most part, they were seeking booty and had no desire to settle, though that changed with different sectors. Their influence in Ireland, England, and France was absorbed into local cultures. Only in the Faroe Islands and Iceland, where little civilization existed, did Viking heritage remain. In Scotland’s northern isles, they effectively eliminated the Picts, and their influence there lasted longer than even in Scandinavia. Where the Danes sailed in sight of land to Ireland, England, Europe, and Asia, the Norwegians incorporated the use of the pole star, sea birds, ice floes, clouds, and whale migrations. Haywood authoritatively explores it all in a densely informative narrative.

An encyclopedic history of Scandinavia, her raiders, and the effect they had on world cultures—not necessarily a tale to curl up with next to a fire but certainly a sturdy reference book.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-10614-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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