Taking Paris to the desperate years after World War II, Sante sees continuance of the “historical regurgitation, when all...


Sante (Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard, 1905-1930, 2009, etc.) explores how the neighborhoods of Paris have defined the city and perhaps created the true Parisian.

The author begins and ends with the flâneur, who wanders throughout the city, engaging the denizens and availing himself of the complete education available from life primarily conducted in public. He sees the palimpsest of a city centuries old that in many ways doesn’t change at all. There are quartiers or neighborhoods where unexplained recurrences are the norm, and many are devoted to a single specialty, whether it’s street performers, prostitutes, pickpockets, or beggars. They have been self-contained places where generations spent their entire lives, living, working, and dying. Many succumbed to plague, cholera, war, or absinthe. All that changed when Baron (an assumed title) Haussmann became prefect of the Seine in 1853 and proceeded to remake the city. He built bridges and a new sewer system, established the Bois at Boulogne and Vincennes, improved lighting, built new public urinals—and all of the progress destroyed the quartiers, a process that continued well into the 20th century. Throughout this rich book, Sante shares the exuberance of the French language with strings of slurs, insults, and pejorative jargon. The last city wall of 1841 established “the zone” (now Périphérique) outside the city, which became a catchall slum exempt from taxes or opening to the suburbs. The book bogs down somewhat as the author recounts a diverse population—including vagrants, whores, actors, criminals, communards, revolutionaries, and anarchists—but he describes them without condescension or reproach, just appreciation of the city they built.

Taking Paris to the desperate years after World War II, Sante sees continuance of the “historical regurgitation, when all the ghosts came out maybe for a last dance.” All who love Paris will love this book.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-29932-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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