A lively history in its own right, offering an authoritative context for those hooked on the novels of Forester, O'Brian,...




Until now, there has been no general history of the classic age of naval warfare—the 40 or so years between the American Revolution and the fall of Napoleon. Miller (Star-Spangled Men, 1997, etc.) has finally done the job and done it superbly.

In his thorough, often gripping tale, the author combines fast-paced narrative with clear analysis to portray the exploits of American and British fighting men at sea. (The French, Dutch, and other navies of the day, while unequal to the other two, unfortunately get less attention.) Assuming that many readers will know little of naval life, Miller carefully describes warship construction, the harsh life of the sea, and the awful realities of battle. Although he seems more admiring of the average sailors than distressed by the shipboard carnage he depicts, he goes farther than most to emphasize the courage of seaborn fighting men. American sailors get their due, but since this was the greatest age of British naval might, the book's central figures are the sailors of the North Sea. Not surprisingly, the hero of Miller's tale who knits the narrative together is Horatio Nelson, the victorious (and fatally wounded) British admiral-in-chief at Trafalgar in 1805. While Miller makes nothing of it, Nelson's rise to top command, knighthood, and undying fame reveals the porousness of Britain's rigid class society when genius showed its hand. On the American side, the absence of a long-established navy cost the nation dearly. Yet the young US force enjoyed its share of men who in their rough abilities and dogged pride were often a match for their more experienced enemies. At this distance, we can take off our hats to both sides and cheer the author of this fine work as well.

A lively history in its own right, offering an authoritative context for those hooked on the novels of Forester, O'Brian, and Kent. (4 maps, 20 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: July 7, 2000

ISBN: 0-471-18517-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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