An intelligent, sympathetic portrait that challenges popular views of the Howe family.



Historian Flavell reappraises the careers of two maligned British commanders in the Revolutionary War and shows how female relatives tried to burnish the men’s reputations.

In “the first whole-family history of the Howes,” the author focuses on the brothers Gen. William Howe, Richard Admiral Lord Howe, and, to a lesser degree, Brig. Gen. George Howe, who was killed near Fort Ticonderoga in the Seven Years’ War. With 10 offspring, the Howes’ aristocratic parents favored “the rather heartless tradition of recycling the dynastic names of dead children.” The early chapters move slowly as Flavell introduces generations of Georges and Sophias and Charlottes and remote events such as the War of Jenkins’ Ear. After 100 or so pages, as the Revolutionary War nears, the narrative gains—and retains—a momentum that effectively turns a group biography into a swiftly paced history of the war and its aftermath, when the public vilified William and Richard for their strategic missteps but later restored them to high esteem. Flavell balances accounts of battles in America with tales of how well-connected Howe women in England tried to advance the brothers’ careers in the press and elsewhere. In 1774, their sister made a noteworthy effort when she tried—over games of chess with Benjamin Franklin—to help Richard find a peaceful alternative to the looming war. Throughout, the author rebuts—sometimes convincingly—common views of the Howes, including that as commander of the British land forces in America, William showed “at the least profound character and professional flaws and, at worst, a conspiratorial ambition to promote the Howes and their quest to save the empire.” Flavell also labels as “probably not true” the rumors that William had a distracting affair with Elizabeth Lloyd Loring. The author offers much for historians to argue about and plenty for patient readers to enjoy.

An intelligent, sympathetic portrait that challenges popular views of the Howe family.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-061-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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