Plenty to digest for the history-minded reader who enjoys a bracing story of courage and adventure on the uncharted high...

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THE LAST VOYAGE OF COLUMBUS

BEING THE EPIC TALE OF THE GREAT CAPTAIN'S FOURTH EXPEDITION, INCLUDING ACCOUNTS OF SWORDFIGHT, MUTINY, SHIPWRECK, GOLD, WAR, HURRICANE, AND DISCOVERY

Vivid narrative of the explorer’s fourth and most harrowing New World trip reveals a courageous, enigmatic man who weathered the perils of nature and the intrigue of contemporaries high and low.

Borrowing freely from previous works, Dugard (Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook, 2001, etc.) weaves a compelling narrative set neatly against a colorful historical background. During his last voyage, the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” survived attacks by primitives, several mutinies and a shipwreck that led to a yearlong sojourn in Jamaica. His intrepid nature during those ordeals hasn’t really received its due until now. Columbus was certainly no saint; an early effort to have him beatified by the Catholic Church was quickly scuttled by stories of his enslavement of many natives. But Dugard’s account reveals a man who was resourceful, persistent and possessed with an uncanny knack for making the right decisions at the right time. Columbus was also a consummate mariner, often navigating by sheer instinct and sensing the onset of storms long before anyone else. And he was a great leader of men: fair and generous with his crew, ruthlessly efficient when dealing with his numerous enemies. Columbus’s fame and fortune bred many rivals, covetous of his power in the New World. Within ten years of his claiming for Spain the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he was thrown into prison there, his house and goods confiscated. As in any good story, heroes and villains abound. Columbus’s younger brother and indomitable partner Bartolome is a particularly noteworthy good guy; baddies include King Ferdinand himself, who quickly reneged on his promise to give Columbus rule over his New World discoveries. One caveat: the author’s focus on the harrowing coordinates of Columbus’s life means that Dugard never manages to unravel his complex personality.

Plenty to digest for the history-minded reader who enjoys a bracing story of courage and adventure on the uncharted high seas.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-316-82883-1

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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