Though a figure of major importance, Francis has been forgotten against better known contemporaries such as England’s Henry...




Thoroughgoing biography of the French ruler who allied with Islam in an effort to resist his Habsburg neighbors.

“If ever there were a king who warrants rehabilitation, it is Francis.” So writes Frieda (The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427-1527, 2013, etc.), who makes a solid effort here. Allowing that Francis I was a “deeply flawed figure” who was committed to the principle of absolutist rule and violently suppressed dissenting religionists, the author lends him humanity by examining his scholarly and artistic interests. As she shows, Francis was a man of letters who supported the work of Andrea del Sarto, Leonardo da Vinci, and other artists even if he sometimes experienced disappointment at their hands—Leonardo never produced the great work of art while residing in Paris that Francis hoped for, though he did leave the Mona Lisa, which explains why it’s housed in the Louvre, which Francis had restored. He also took considerable effort to learn the many and diverse regions that made up his domain. Events placed him in contention with the neighboring powers of Europe, including the Habsburgs of Austria and the pope. While Francis “mired himself in a succession of skirmishes and conflicts on too many fronts,” he took some interesting and daring risks, including forging a short-lived alliance with Suleiman the Magnificent, the leader of the Ottoman Empire, leading to the arrival of a “large and potentially dangerous Muslim population” within France; another anti-Italian alliance with the pirate king Barbarossa led to the ransacking of the French fleet. For all his diplomatic and military difficulties and problems with orderly succession, Francis was also a patron of explorers who soon extended France’s empire into the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Though a figure of major importance, Francis has been forgotten against better known contemporaries such as England’s Henry VIII. Frieda’s work helps restore him to history.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-156309-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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