Insightful accounts of memorials where there is usually more than meets the eye.



The stories behind national monuments around the world, but definitely not a travel book.

Lowe divides his 25 chapters into five categories: heroes, martyrs, villains, destruction, and rebirth. He emphasizes how many show that “every society deceives itself that its values are eternal.” However, he continues, “when the world changes, our monuments—and the values that they represent—remain frozen in time.” Most readers will recognize the Arlington, Virginia, memorial of Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, a replica of the famous photograph. They may not recognize The Motherland Calls! a colossal female figure representing Mother Russia, sword raised, beckoning her children to fight. Nearly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and absurdly grandiose anywhere else, it’s appropriate to celebrate the titanic 1942 Battle of Stalingrad. Lowe’s “villain” examples may rightly raise some hackles. Germany and Japan committed unspeakable atrocities, but only postwar Germany handled the guilt properly by apologizing continually and never making excuses. When pressed, Japan’s leaders express regret, but, unlike the case with Germany, many of her neighbors do not forgive her. Readers may fume at Lowe’s account of the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a memorial to war dead, including its convicted war criminals, and even to the Kenpeitai, the brutal Japanese Gestapo. Among monuments to destruction is the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in France, left vacant after the Nazis murdered its inhabitants. Japanese atomic bomb memorials vividly portray the horrors but treat the bombings as natural disasters similar to earthquakes, rarely mentioning more than abstract concepts such as war and suffering. Few monuments escape Lowe’s critical eye. For example, the mural adorning the U.N. Security Council Chamber in New York is “hopelessly dated” and even “cartoonish.” Other monuments of note include Auschwitz, Mussolini’s Tomb, and the Liberation Route Europe.

Insightful accounts of memorials where there is usually more than meets the eye.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23502-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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A fond remembrance of a glamorous, bygone era.


A follow-up to the bestselling Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

Teaming up again with his co-author (now wife) on previous books, Hill, a distinguished former Secret Service agent, remembers his days traveling the world as Jacqueline Kennedy’s trusted bodyguard. After John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Hill received a medal for valor in protecting the president and his wife, Jackie, from Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets. Later, the medal vanished along with photos of the author's travels with Mrs. Kennedy as a Secret Service bodyguard. Hill recounts how his search for an old award he never wanted yielded an even greater treasure: forgotten images of his globe-trotting adventures with the first lady. The photographs—some in color, some in black and white—immediately transported the bewitched author back to the glittering heyday of Camelot. Images of Jackie in Paris brought memories of the president’s first major state excursion to France, in 1961, where the otherwise very private first lady was “the center of all attention.” Numerous other diplomatic trips followed—to England, Greece, India, Pakistan, and across South America. Everything Jackie did, from visiting ruined temples to having lunch with Queen Elizabeth, was headline news. Hill dutifully protected her from gawkers and paparazzi not only on public occasions, but also more private ones such as family retreats to the Amalfi Coast and the Kennedys’ country home in Middleburg, Virginia. In three short years, the never-romantic bond between the two deepened to a place “beyond friendship” in which “we could communicate with each other with a look or a nod….She knew that I would do whatever she asked—whether it was part of my job as a Secret Service agent or not.” Replete with unseen private photos and anecdotes of a singular relationship, the book will appeal mostly to American historians but also anyone interested in the private world inhabited by one of the most beguiling but enigmatic first ladies in American history.

A fond remembrance of a glamorous, bygone era.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982181-11-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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