A useful addition to Napoleonic history, but readers well versed in that history will follow the battles and diplomatic...




An exploration of the years between Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and his exile to Elbe.

As Price (Modern European History/Bradford Univ.; The Perilous Crown: France Between Revolutions, 1814-1848, 2007, etc.) demonstrates, Waterloo was no more than an anticlimax to Napoleon’s career; it really ended when he left for Elbe. Ultimately, he was undone by confusing troop movements, too many generals leading lots of different armies and a complex assortment of politicians, czars, kings and other leaders. Just about everyone in Europe was involved in trying to defeat Napoleon after his Russian debacle. The author clearly examines their varied objectives, from the restoration of the Bourbons to installation of a puppet government to regency led by Marie Louise, Napoleon’s wife and the daughter of the Austrian leader, Francis II. Some readers will have difficulty deciphering the maps, following the numerous different armies in battles and recognizing the constantly changing players—the biggest of which was Klemens von Metternich, who offered mediation after the Russian retreat. Price questions his motives, wondering whether he truly wanted peace or was laying a trap for Napoleon, who feared succumbing to a dishonorable peace, which he felt would cause the French to rise in revolt. His bête noire was being attacked by the mobs of Paris, and he famously said of public opinion, it “is an invisible, mysterious power that nothing can resist; nothing could be more changeable…but it never lies.” Napoleon’s frequent reports from Paris were expressly designed to keep tabs on opinion, but he often failed to listen. Taxation, conscription, censorship and the collapse of trade turned the people against him.

A useful addition to Napoleonic history, but readers well versed in that history will follow the battles and diplomatic machinations better than those with a narrower scope of historical and geographical knowledge.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-19-993467-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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