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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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