A grisly, grim slog through the history of Victorian murder, punctuated occasionally by intriguing historical lessons.

THE INVENTION OF MURDER

HOW THE VICTORIANS REVELLED IN DEATH AND DETECTION AND CREATED MODERN CRIME

Flanders (Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain, 2006, etc.) attempts to trace the growth of murder and its detection in Victorian England.

The author does not track the history of crime-solving during this period; most crimes were solved by the simple expedient of someone pointing a finger. The accused had very few rights, and those who couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer were on their own. Flanders devotes most of her book to murders—one after another after another, many sensational, others notable for the innocence of the executed. Since the author does not present the murders chronologically, it’s difficult to tell if the murder trials had any effect on the evolution of the rights of defendants. Instead, Flanders organizes the text according to who killed whom: husband/wife, servants/employers, etc. The author demonstrates the significance of the press in the investigations of the murders. From the beginning of the 19th century, broadsides and “penny dreadfuls” were circulated immediately after an event. Those and the newspapers of the time readily admitted that truth was irrelevant—profit was the goal. Their treatment of the accused depended largely on their social class. Theaters and authors profiled victims and events from the news of the day. Charles Dickens was the most prolific of these, using incidents and even quotes in many books, including Bleak House and Oliver Twist. Though Flanders ably follows the important role played by the media, readers seeking information about the establishment of the first police force or detective department, or laws passed to protect defendants, should look elsewhere.

A grisly, grim slog through the history of Victorian murder, punctuated occasionally by intriguing historical lessons.

Pub Date: July 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02487-9

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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...

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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