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

PRISONERS OF HISTORY

WHAT MONUMENTS TO WORLD WAR II TELL US ABOUT OUR HISTORY AND OURSELVES

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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Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: yesterday

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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...

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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