The experiences of a young officer with a famous Scottish regiment, the Black Watch, in France in 1915. Historian Richter (Ohio State Univ.) was allowed access to the Sotheby papers by Peter H. Liddle, historian and archivist of the Liddle Collection (University of Leeds, England), which contains thousands of documents relating to Britain's wars. Richter found the aristocratic Sotheby to be a keen observer, imbued with the British public school spirit; at the front, his life was often put at risk as he cheerfully fulfilled his orders, leading men under the most trying and shocking of conditions. A devoted son of distinguished military forebears, proud of his country and of his beloved Eton, he started his detailed diary in December 1914. Sotheby maintained an unconquerable spirit despite extreme hardships, and despite having witnessed the deaths and maiming of hundreds of his comrades during artillery duels and assaults over muddy, rain-soaked terrain on the northern flank of the Western Front. His writings reflect the rather narrow and prejudiced viewpoint of his class and time. He had a servant who was held to strict standards and could be sent back to the ranks if he didn't perform. A brief romantic encounter with a young French girl is only noted in passing. Sotheby had a strong premonition of death after several particularly narrow escapes, but he expressed until the end his deep sense of patriotism and his feeling that he was privileged to risk his life for his beloved king and country. He died in September 1915, at the age of 21, during the battle of Loos. A poignant reflection of the sacrificial idealism of another time, and of the tragedy and destruction of modern total war.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8214-1178-0

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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