A slight, affectionate meander through scenes from a County Mayo childhood of the 1930s and early '40s. Luxury was a full stomach in the peaceable parish of Attymass, where the word Protestant was never uttered and ``people made the most of . . . landmarks in our calendar,'' like threshing time. Entertainment was watching nature at work, and Walsh was an appreciative audience—seeing in a mass of spongy fungi the perfect trampoline, or covering her mouth while stealing a peek at eggs in a nest lest her breath betray her presence to the mother bird. She also recollects the impromptu fiddling (``God's concert'') of neighbor Kitty D'Arcy, who quite lost her bearings after being left at the altar, and of course the Mission, a bazaar-like affair with stalls displaying all manner of holy goods, which was simply ``the greatest event in our young lives.'' Weaned on stories of ghosts and fairies, Walsh had her fair share of childhood terrors. There were also corporeal sources of disquiet, including Tom Lynch's mule and the Connor's bull, and the Tinkers (gypsy tinsmiths) who regularly made camp in the district and helped themselves to what they couldn't get by begging. Walsh, the ninth of fourteen in the largest family in Treanoughter, lingers over memories of each of the nine households in the village. Cousin John, visiting from the States, was aghast at the paucity of reading matter in the homes and sent over Colliers, National Geographic, and the Saturday Evening Post—which may account for Walsh's transformation from the enchanted provincial she portrays into an ÇmigrÇ (to Britain, in 1946), and now into an author. A parochial paean to a circumscribed world of folkways that survived long past their time.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-15153-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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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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