Wonderfully engaging history for bibliophiles.

An eerie journey into a bold cosmopolitan publishing venture in defiance of the censorship rampant in Nazi Germany.

How did this English-language publishing house—established in Germany before the war and eventually moved to Paris—survive under Nazi surveillance from the early 1930s through the late 1940s? In an impressively thorough piece of research, Troy (English/Univ. of Hartford; co-editor: May Sinclair: Moving Towards the Modern, 2006) unearths the story of the Albatross Press, a rival to the long-running Leipzig house Tauchnitz, which had been publishing inexpensive paperbacks in English throughout continental Europe since 1841. A disgruntled, recently fired Tauchnitz editor, Max Christian Wegner, a wily, versatile German World War I vet, channeled his ambition into the new enterprise with another brilliant polyglot, John Holroyd-Reece, and Hamburg Jewish publishing scion Kurt Enoch to bring out modern Anglo-American writers (James Joyce, John Steinbeck, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and others) in a distinctive, framed format. The press was a hit, so much so that the Nazis, recently come to power by 1933, allowed the press to slip through “the level of scrutiny and penalty that hailed down on other German publishers” for frankly economic reasons—the regime was frantic for foreign currency. The strange protection the press garnered allowed it to swallow its rival Tauchnitz, until the Nazi Aryanization policy forced Enoch to flee Germany and occupation spurred Holroyd-Reece to run Albatross from London. The Paris arm was transformed into Deutsche Tauchnitz, specializing in “modern German novels” approved by the Nazi censors. The war also allowed Albatross-Tauchnitz’s rivals to poach other publishers, including Allen Lane’s Penguin Books in London (which had hired none other than Enoch). Largely from tracing correspondence, Troy follows the trajectory of the press and its operators, maintaining that Albatross “became one of the last voices for Anglo-American culture in Nazi-occupied Europe.”

Wonderfully engaging history for bibliophiles.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-300-21568-7

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


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


Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005