A lucent addition to Gloucester’s town treasury, featuring a wealth of dramatic stories.



Kurlansky (Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, 2006, etc.) brings his storytelling élan to the fishing town of Gloucester, Mass.

Its fine harbor, abundance of fish and reasonable climate attracted one of the earliest European settlements in America to this sheltered spot on the Cape Ann peninsula. In 1623, employees of an English fish-trading company constructed a few huts, cured some cod and departed to sell it in Bilbao, leaving behind 14 farmers. Gloucester has been internationally known ever since, and Kurlansky fills in the background to explain how it evolved into “an Irish, Scandinavian, Portuguese, Sicilian town” dedicated to its fishery. Such a multicultural place suits this author perfectly; he can revel in the local color, peek into the corners and under the floorboards. Topical chapters sketch the town’s tribal insularity and self-sufficiency, the tragedies wreaked by fierce storms at sea and the milky light that has drawn such artists as Fitz Hugh Lane, Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley and Edward Hopper to Gloucester. Kurlansky offers a broad, intelligent examination into the decline of the fisheries. “If the fishermen are following the regulators and the regulators are listening to the scientists, and yet the fish stocks continue to be depleted,” he asks, “who is getting it wrong?” The devouring maw of tourists and developers, attracted by the ambience they speedily kill, raises the specter of vanishing cultural diversity and economic egalitarianism. On a more cheerful note, Kurlansky celebrates the special requirements of Gloucester’s famous greased-pole walk: “It is generally recognized that to be a successful pole walker a contestant must be tremendously brave, extremely agile, and extraordinarily drunk.”

A lucent addition to Gloucester’s town treasury, featuring a wealth of dramatic stories.

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-345-48727-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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