A scholarly yet page-turning, superbly written history.




Bunker (Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, 2010) delivers an eye-opening study of the British view of the American Revolution and why they were crazy to fight it.

England never had a solid plan for administering the American colonies, situated on a continent they couldn’t understand and could never hope to rule. Their existence was purely economic, a market for English goods and an exclusive supplier of tobacco, rice, timber, fur, rum, sugar and other important exports. Those who governed for England sent few, if any, reports, and those were incomplete and/or about the coming trouble. Thomas Gage, the commander in chief of the British Army in America, was responsible for territory from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, in addition to the western bases, from Quebec to Alabama, that Britain gained after the Seven Years’ War. On the other hand, King George III’s influence was limited. Things might have carried on as usual except for the 1772 banking crash and resulting recession. Speculation, greed, extortion and fraud brought the East India Company to its knees, deep in debt with a mountain of tea losing value to a worldwide smuggling trade. The author lists countless mistakes, misunderstandings and plain stupidity, all of which led to revolution. The ultimate cause of the revolt was Britain’s staunch belief in the twin pillars of the British constitution: parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law in a government built on land ownership. Colonists had no rights, and only landowners could attend town meetings. Questions of taxation, religious freedom and the bailout of the East India Company were really just flash points, and the failure of British leadership to recognize the warning signs will astonish readers who thought the Revolution was just about tea.

A scholarly yet page-turning, superbly written history.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-59484-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet