A full-bodied, moving story of a battered populace that refused to be annihilated.

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THE OCCUPIED GARDEN

A FAMILY MEMOIR OF WAR-TORN HOLLAND

Canadian novelist den Hartog (Origin of Haloes, 2005, etc.) and her older sister Kasaboski re-create the Nazi occupation of their grandparents’ homeland.

The authors alternate their personal history of grandparents Cor (short for Cornelia) and Gerrit den Hartog, who lived in a small farming town outside of The Hague, with events in the life of the royal Dutch family. They focus specifically on Queen Wilhelmina, who fled to London when the Nazis invaded on May 13, 1940, and subsequently broadcast in exile over Radio Oranje. Gerrit and Cor operated a garden in Leidschendam and were raising their growing family when the Nazis arrived, an invasion that was mild at first but grew more stringent as the Dutch proved increasingly intransigent in the face of crackdown. Gerrit, a veteran in his 30s, was mobilized for a hasty, ill-prepared resistance by the Dutch army—though after the devastating German bombardment of Rotterdam, the country, at Wilhelmina’s command, surrendered. The authors’ alternating micro/macro viewpoint is thoroughly effective in portraying an entire country in the throes of war. Rationing, round-ups of Jews, arbitrary raids for available men and labor, bombings and random acts of violence by Nazi soldiers became the norm. The authors depict the infamous collaboration of the treasonous socialist Anton Mussert, as well as countless heroic moments by local people who harbored Jews and other refugees. Meanwhile, Wilhelmina sent heartening missives from exile, while her daughter, Juliana, who eventually took over the throne, and granddaughters were safely ensconced in Ottawa, Canada.

A full-bodied, moving story of a battered populace that refused to be annihilated.

Pub Date: April 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-56157-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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