An engaging work that will no doubt prompt enthusiastic visits to castles around Britain.




Enchanting journey through feudal England in the wake of Norman castle building.

Before William the Conquerer arrived in 1066, why did the English lack castles while the French had them in abundance? A historian specializing in the Middle Ages, Morris (King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta, 2015, etc.) imparts some fascinating information in this accessible study for readers, leading us from one noted English castle to the next without an overabundance of technical construction detail. As the author defines them, castles were fortresses as well as residences. Indeed, in England, after the Viking invasions of the ninth century, the king did not permit private fortifications; rather, he was in favor of the communal burh, or borough, where everyone lived within a walled community. On the other hand, after the Viking invasions in France, specifically in Normandy, the French experienced political fragmentation, and powerful men took “the matter of defense into their own hands.” The Normans brought their motte-and-bailey style to England; before the use of stone, castles were constructed with high earthen walls, ditches, and wooden buildings, as illustrated in the Bayeux Tapestry. Soon the countryside was dotted by such motte-and-bailey castles, built by William’s supporters; the author estimates that around 500 castles were built by the Normans in England during his reign. William’s Tower of London was the prototypical “keep,” made of stone and more expensive to build but able to expand bigger, stronger, and taller. Other fine examples of keeps are the Rochester, Harlech, and Bodiam castles, appearing here in helpful photos. Edward I’s invasion of Wales in the late 13th century prompted the construction of some massive, showy buildings, “tools of conquest,” such as the castles of Caernarfon and Beaumaris. Morris also depicts the “castle’s last stand” during the English civil war, when the doomed King Charles took refuge in the stately Raglan Castle in Wales.

An engaging work that will no doubt prompt enthusiastic visits to castles around Britain.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-359-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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