A swift, informed and balanced account of Columbus, his times, his voyages.




Two German journalists pick apart the explorer’s biography, paying particular attention to the ship he scuttled on his fourth and final voyage.

As Brinkbäumer and Höges point out, their volume is part of a series of projects, among them a television show and a documentary film, related to the still-submerged wreck off the Caribbean coast of Panama. If that ship is indeed the Vizcaína, it would be a stunning discovery, not just because it is one of Columbus’s ships—the authors remind us that the great sailor lost nine vessels—but because it would be the first caravel ever found. Little is known about the design and construction of these swift ships, which played such a significant role in the Age of Exploration. Brinkbäumer and Höges (who must have had an expense account to die for) visited just about every relevant site in the New and Old Worlds and interviewed just about everyone who has done research on Columbus. They present an engaging synthesis. Beginning with some details about the Vizcaína’s discovery, including the controversy about who saw it first, they then launch into what becomes the text’s substance: the story of Columbus and his four voyages, including careful examinations of the explorer’s behavior as well as that of his men. It is not until very near the end that the authors return to the Vizcaína to explain what happened to it 400 years ago and to explore the myriad political factors that keep it under water. The prose is sometimes breathless and urgent, especially at the openings of chapters. The volume will perhaps prove of most value as a primer in Columbian studies; readers who know only that in 1492 he sailed the ocean blue will here find the rest of the story.

A swift, informed and balanced account of Columbus, his times, his voyages.

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-15-101186-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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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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