There is so much information—much of it useful but some superfluous—that this could easily be used as a textbook. Tracking...




Capponi (An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli, 2010, etc.), a descendant of one of Florence’s most prominent families, has the inside track on the beginnings of the Medici rule and their patronage of the great rebirth of art and architecture.

The author explains the politics of Italy, with its papal states, succession of popes, city-state squabbles, and different mercenaries. A good background in Italy’s history and geography is necessary for comprehension, but there is considerable difficulty keeping track of rulers, their sons, and those who usurp them—as well as deciphering their allegiances. Military leaders are just as confusing, as they frequently changed their ties with the wind (and purse), and Capponi alternates referring to characters by their first names, last names, or titles. In the early 15th century, there was considerable conflict among Milan, Venice, and Florence. Each city in Northern Italy was affected, either by promises of support, marriages, or threats of side wars with or against Genoa, Lucca, Pisa, and any other city along the supply routes. The author thoroughly enlightens readers regarding the inner workings of the armies and of Florence’s politics. The defeat of the papal army and the Duke of Milan at the Battle of Anghiari gave the area time to rebuild. Then came the rise of the Medici, who financed the transformation of art and helped begin the Renaissance. The book lacks as art history—there are only a few mentions of artists and short chapter-heading pieces about da Vinci’s lost painting of the Battle of Anghiari—but as military history, it shines.

There is so much information—much of it useful but some superfluous—that this could easily be used as a textbook. Tracking the characters, their treachery, and the many battles will tax many general readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61219-460-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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...


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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