The distinguished, prolific classical historian (Constantine the Great, p. 681, etc.) here critically examines the reigns of the Roman Empire's three Antonine emperors (a.d. 138192). Eighteenth-century historian Edward Gibbon considered the reigns of Antoninus Pius (a.d. 138161) and Marcus Aurelius (a.d. 161180) the period ``during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous.'' Grant looks carefully at this traditional view of the Antonine Pax Romana and points out that during Antoninus Pius's long rule there were disturbances in Greece, Britain, Dacia, Judaea, and Africa; he also criticizes Pius's administration as static, backward-looking, and uncreative, though competent enough. At his death, in a decision that presaged the disastrous power-sharing arrangements of the later empire, Antoninus Pius bequeathed a shared authority to Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (who died a natural death in a.d. 169). Aurelius, author of the Stoic classic Meditations, ruled successfully during a turbulent period; he had to stave off challenges to Roman rule in Britain and Gaul, fight wars against the Parthians and on the Danube frontier, and govern an empire riven by a grave pestilence. Weakened by ``incessant winter campaigning,'' he died on the Danube frontier in a.d. 180, leaving the empire in the hands of his son, the cruel megalomaniac Commodus (a.d. 180192), whose reign is noteworthy mainly for its absolutism and arbitrary violence. Grant reviews Antonine art, architecture, literature, and rhetoric, arguing that thematically (the rejection even by pagan writers of classical paganism) and in style and form (the works of Apuleius presage the modern novel) Antonine culture marks a transition from the ancient to the early medieval world. With characteristic lucidity, Grant shows that Rome during its vaunted ``golden age'' contained seeds of its future collapse and of the Europe to come.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-415-10754-7

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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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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