A great historical resource about a mysterious people that also shows how women, through the ages, have gathered strength...




Man (Saladin: The Life, The Legend and the Islamic Empire, 2015, etc.) debunks the ancient myths and legendary nonsense surrounding a race of women warriors.

The so-called Amazons left no pottery or jewelry and certainly no settlement that could be excavated. However, there are tombs yielding immense treasures and information, particularly in Tuva, now a semi-autonomous region of Russian. This was the heartland of the Scythians, the people most likely to have produced the Amazons. The region boasts a wide assortment of burial mounds, and the kurgans, or tombs, are evidence of the violent lives lived by the women—and the men—over some 1,500 years (roughly 1000 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.). There absolutely were women warriors who rode horses and fought like men, but the author smoothly and efficiently debunks the many myths associated with them—e.g., the killing of male children or the removal of a girl’s right breast to facilitate the shooting of a bow. It was mainly the Greeks who proliferated the myths about this fierce race of women; in fact, they were obsessed with them. It was a fashion in art to follow mythology, and the Amazons served as a cautionary tale, the symbol of a danger to family and state. Add in xenophobia, and they were the ultimate threat. As the Greeks saw it, it took real heroes, like Achilles, and help from the gods to defeat these warriors, adding to Greek glory. Due to Greek influence, the Amazons were lodged in Europe’s consciousness, advanced by exploration in the new world of South America (a tribe just over the next mountain…), and set in place by novels, Wonder Woman, and other elements of pop culture. “Wonder Woman is even more Amazonian that the Amazons of Greek legend,” writes the author. “[She] is not about to be defeated or bedded, even by superheroes.”

A great historical resource about a mysterious people that also shows how women, through the ages, have gathered strength from each other and continue to do so today.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-675-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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