A fine, if at times over-focused, portrait of Massachusetts’ famed Cape and the islands that surround it, from travel writer

and naturalist Schneider (The Adirondacks, 1997). Doubtless there will be plenty of Cape Codders who will take umbrage at so green an incomer (Schneider has lived on the Vineyard for only a decade) claiming to know their territory well enough to write a history. Umbrage and insularity are their birthright, of course. But Schneider pulls it off with aplomb, walking softly and ending his tale in the19th century, with nary a Cronkite nor a Belushi in sight. Schneider draws out from historical documents a sturdy sense of the place as the Wampanoags and Nauset people experienced it in the pre—Columbian era. Then came the Basques in pursuit of cod, the kidnapper Gorges in pursuit of gold, and Bartholomew Gosnold in pursuit of sassafras for the syphilitics of Europe—all bringing the disease and displacement that were to become the Indian’s lot. Schneider explains how to tell Pilgrim from Puritan, how they fared in those first few cruel years, and what characterized their dealings with the natives. Whaling soon came to dominate the local economy, and here Schneider gets bogged down in a minute retelling of the voyage of the whaling ship Essex. Eventful as it was, so much detail throws the story out of balance, for one great pleasure of Schneider’s writing is the braiding of incidentals that keeps the story nimble—sketches of freebooters named Coffin and monopolists named Starbuck—and provides fast asides: Vineyarders looking down upon Nantucket as "a place known to be populated by pink-trousered probable Republicans"; Nantucketers scorning Vineyarders who "wouldn’t think of loaning their private beach keys to their own first born"; and all of them despairing of the Cape itself as a "lost cause." For the most part, a tight and cruising historical narrative—a rich tale for so small a piece of property. (drawings, photos,

maps, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-5928-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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