Small details enriched with deep emotion and dramatic irony.

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TITANIC TRAGEDY

A NEW LOOK AT THE LOST LINER

One of the deans of maritime history returns with some sidebars to enlarge the hefty history of the Titanic.

One of the most appealing features of Maxtone-Graham’s (Normandie: France's Legendary Art Deco Ocean Liner, 2007, etc.) approach is his generous gratitude and affection for his mentor, Walter Lord (1917–2002), whose A Night to Remember (1955) was a bestseller that ignited one of the first firestorms of interest in the disaster. The author looks closely at a number of aspects of the case, beginning with the developments of Morse code and the Marconi wireless, techniques and inventions that lowered the loss of life that night. He also examines the design and construction and departure of the ship and talks of recent visits to the sites, where, he notes sadly, “there is less and less to preserve.” He recalls the near-collision at departure with the nearby New York; a passenger filmed the episode, but the footage sank with the ship. Maxtone-Graham also writes about the chaos and human tragedy associated with the loading and lowering of the too-few lifeboats, and adds some grimly humorous details about how people managed without chamber pots. He revisits the case of the nearby Californian, which sat still and did not respond; he takes us aboard the crowded Carpathia, the ship that rescued the hundreds of survivors. The author also reminds us of the musicians who played—and died—that night and is saddened by the vandalism that has damaged a number of Titanic memorials.

Small details enriched with deep emotion and dramatic irony.

Pub Date: March 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-08240-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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