PILLAGING THE EMPIRE

PIRACY IN THE AMERICAS, 1500-1750

paper 0-7656-0257-1 Lane (History/Coll. of William & Mary) offers an overview of the history behind the romances of piracy on the “Spanish Main.” Lane’s thesis regarding piracy in American waters (his focus here) is that by and large piracy in the Caribbean (and, significantly, in the Pacific as well) had its roots in the response of the rest of Europe to Spanish and Portuguese imperial designs on the New World. The first Caribbean pirates were, in fact, French Huguenots, English “privateers” (the latter ostensibly acting on behalf of Queen Elizabeth), and Dutch sea-rovers, staunch Protestants all, who were particularly ill-disposed toward the Catholicism of the Iberian thrones. The best known of these—the Englishmen John Hawkins and Francis Drake—have earned inflated reputations as scourges of the Spaniards, but the Dutch may have inflicted even more damage on Spanish interests in the New World, as Lane points out in detail. Yet our highly colored picture of the pirates and their crews derived more from the final and briefest cycle of piracy in the New World; in the aftermath of the War of the Spanish Succession, just prior to the beginning of the 18th century, a new breed of buccaneer emerged, anarchic, owing allegiance to no flag but his (and, in isolated cases, her) own, and robbing from Spanish, English, French, or anyone else’s shipping without discrimination. The most valuable contribution of this book is to put these most famous marauders into a larger historical context and to point out how brief their reign of seagoing terror really was. How disappointing, then, to discover that our fabled swashbucklers were little more than waterborne bandits who practiced a particularly ruthless form of political expediency. Lane recounts his tale in an amiable if somewhat dry voice, and the resulting book is more interesting than stirring. A useful corrective to the mythology of the pirate, but one wishes it were a little more hearty. (illustrations, maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7656-0256-3

Page Count: 216

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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