The book is well-written, but the sexual escapades and personality disorders of the principals take so much space that it...

THE UNFINISHED PALAZZO

LIFE, LOVE AND ART IN VENICE: THE STORIES OF LUISA CASATI, DORIS CASTLEROSSE AND PEGGY GUGGENHEIM

Guardian dance critic Mackrell (Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation, 2014, etc.) connects the lives of three unique 20th-century women.

These exceptional women—Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim—found a freedom in Venice that was not available elsewhere in Europe or America. The city was welcoming to all sorts of strange and wonderful people. The construction of the Palazzo Venier began in the mid-18th century as a tribute to a powerful Venetian family, but financial difficulties and failure to produce an heir left a building only one story high and two rooms deep—hence, unfinished. Casati found the near ruin and saw it as a place of poetic mystery. She rented it in 1910 and, leaving the exterior derelict-looking, transformed the interior and garden into a showplace for her soirees and a home for her pets, which included a boa constrictor and cheetah, among others. She was always on show, daring but superficial. The author suggests that Casati may have had Asperger’s syndrome, explaining her idiosyncratic behavior, but she lived the aesthetic life, making her life a work of art to cover her inability to express herself. It was Casati who truly brought the palazzo to life; she had a great deal of money, which she spent easily. Not so her successor Castlerosse, who went from a shopgirl in London to a professional mistress. Her connection to the palazzo is relatively minor compared to Casati’s; Castlerosse’s friend bought it for her in 1938 and hosted only one ball before World War II interfered. Guggenheim is the most intriguing character in the narrative, which occasionally falls victim to bloat. Her love of Venice brought her to the palazzo in 1948 to house her modern art collection, making it one of the most-visited attractions in Venice.

The book is well-written, but the sexual escapades and personality disorders of the principals take so much space that it degenerates into a gossipy tell-all.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-500-51866-3

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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...

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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