An admirable, mildly revisionist update on a widely misunderstood king.

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BOSWORTH 1485

THE BATTLE THAT TRANSFORMED ENGLAND

The 2012 discovery of Richard III’s remains produced a flurry of accounts of the famous Shakespearean villain whose short reign ended in the battle that launched the Tudor dynasty. In this latest, British historian Jones (After Hitler: The Last Days of the Second World War in Europe, 2015, etc.) rocks no boats and agrees with most modern scholars that Richard (1452-1485) was not such a bad fellow.

Richard III lived during the War of the Roses, a highly unstable, violent period in British history. His father died in battle in 1460 after almost achieving the crown, which went to Richard’s brother, Edward IV, who reigned from 1461 to 1483. Richard served him more or less loyally until his death, when he revived an old accusation that Edward was illegitimate, making Richard himself the legitimate heir. Enjoying considerable support among the nobility and parliament, he was crowned three months later. Despite the absence of proof, most scholars believe Richard murdered Edward’s sons (“the princes in the Tower”), but killing rival claimants, even as children, was not unknown in that era. Another rival, Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), had only a distant claim; his bumbling invasion and shocking victory against superior forces continue to bewitch historians. Jones tries his hand, and the result depends heavily on speculation, hints from contemporary documents, and parallels with other medieval battles. This is unavoidable due to the dearth of evidence. The location of the battlefield itself remains controversial; new findings reveal that Richard was not severely hunchbacked but do not answer major questions. “It is a more untidy and unsettling reality than the caricature with which we are familiar,” writes the author.

An admirable, mildly revisionist update on a widely misunderstood king.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-859-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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