Tanner's concurrent personal explorations of the real and symbolic Irish landscapes bring an immediacy to this ancient...




Tanner (Croatia, 1997, etc.) painstakingly scrutinizes the Irish struggles of the last half-millennium through the lens of religion, which by necessity brings to bear facets of ideology, class, politics, and the distribution of wealth and power.

Five hundred grim years in the making, the religious strife that continues to bedevil Ireland is not a pretty picture. The animosities among the various parties—the natives, the Old English, the New English, the Presbyterians, the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, with the odd Methodist, Calvinist, and Congregationalist thrown in—seemingly have forever been at or near the boil, and have been since the Middle Ages. Tanner's marvelously detailed study traces tensions back to the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169, but it was Henry VIII's split with the Pope that started the troubles in earnest. It is a miracle that Tanner can make sense of the byzantine convolutions that make up the political-religious matrix, though it requires careful reading and the memory of an elephant: “a Dutch Calvinist prince allied to the Catholic Habsburgs and the Pope, who was claiming the throne in the name of his Anglican wife, daughter of the English Catholic king.” It also feels just plain ridiculous, though always mortally so: slaughters haunt this tale. It is not Tanner's intent to suggest that religion is the sole motivating factor behind the endless turmoil—he is aware of the political and economic machinations at work and weaves them into the narrative—though he does feel that the religious angle, now that the Sinn Fein, the RUC, and the bombing have taken the limelight, give religion short shrift. Ironically, he sees religion as having lost importance in the last decade, as church indiscretions, and its lack of employment opportunities, have undercut its authority and sense of sanctuary.

Tanner's concurrent personal explorations of the real and symbolic Irish landscapes bring an immediacy to this ancient fight. Unfortunately, such immediacy doesn't lend much hope for a solution ere long.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-300-09072-2

Page Count: 470

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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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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