Compelling battle scenes, but too advanced for beginners and too basic for scholars.

THE ROMAN BARBARIAN WARS

THE ERA OF ROMAN CONQUEST

Dyck’s debut history is an account of ancient Rome’s major encounters with barbarians.

Combining a thirst for expansion with a disciplined, powerful military, the ancient Romans built an empire that spread across the Mediterranean and beyond. With such an expansive empire, the military was constantly engaged by opposing forces. As Rome sought to extend its territories north into modern-day England, France and Germany, the empire met with particularly difficult resistance from Germanic and Gallic tribes. These tribes, though lacking the same level of military sophistication as the Roman legions, were able to inflict serious damage upon the Roman Empire, perhaps even hastening its eventual downfall. Dyck’s details of ancient battles and the people involved provide as much sword-slashing excitement as any fictional account. The book suffers, however, from a lack of greater context and analysis. Readers new to the history of ancient Rome may find it difficult to navigate the various warring tribes and battlegrounds without further explanatory material. Although the book begins with a brief overview of the founding of Rome, information about the motivation behind the empire’s dangerous expansion campaigns—which caused the “barbarian wars” of the title—is conspicuously light. While much of the information on Julius Caesar’s campaigns comes from the writing of Caesar himself, there is no mention of when or why Caesar did this writing, or the tradition of the Roman memoir that made this writing possible. Other sources, though well documented, at times prove disappointing; citations of Wikipedia, even for minor information, may be acceptable for informal discussions but hardly belong in a book meant to be taken as a serious work of history.

Compelling battle scenes, but too advanced for beginners and too basic for scholars.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1426981838

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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