A thoroughly researched, appealing examination of the “original men in black.”




Intriguing look at the enigmatic world of the deadly Asian assassin.

Historian and travel writer Man (Samurai, 2011, etc.) carefully plumbs the ninja’s surprisingly intricate history of stealth strategizing. Popularly thought of as “comic-book creatures,” the author re-establishes the folklore of these fearless “shadow warriors” and examines their historical roots in China, where a “proto-ninja” was first thought to have been enlisted. Shrouded in secrecy, these commissioned, intuitive masters of disguise were able to covertly insinuate themselves into situations, carry out orders of espionage or sabotage, and just as elusively, slip out unnoticed from even the most well-guarded fortresses. In an early chapter, the author provides a ninja-style how-to guide of self-protection secrets, though the origins of their skill sets are somewhat sketchy. Man postulates that these ninja talents may have arisen from bandits, mountain ascetics called yamabushi or nomadic monks. With a conversational delivery, the author offers a guided tour through Japan’s many ninja tourist attractions and fascinating glimpses into the shinobi legacy, which survived a hierarchy of unifiers and shoguns only to eventually acquiesce to Western culture’s mythical interpretation of them. In today’s world, Man concludes, a good amount of fantasy is necessary to keep the spirit and the lore of the ninja alive.

A thoroughly researched, appealing examination of the “original men in black.”

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-222202-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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