A solid multivolume popular history: readable, entirely nonrevisionist and preoccupied by politics, religion and monarchs—a...

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TUDORS

THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND FROM HENRY VIII TO ELIZABETH I

Prolific British novelist, biographer and critic Ackroyd launches the second volume of his sweeping history less than two years after beginning with Foundation (2012).

Readers curious about 16th-century British daily life or culture must look elsewhere; Ackroyd concentrates on Britain’s ruling Tudors—minus the first, Henry VII, covered earlier. This installment opens with the 1509 accession of Henry VIII (1491–1547). Few mourned his harsh and rapacious but also unwarlike father, who left a full treasury which Henry soon emptied in wars with France before plunging into the dynastic and religious quarrels that dominated his reign. Obsession with having a male heir, not lust, was responsible for his plethora of wives. No fan of the Protestant Reformation, Henry broke with the papacy over its refusal to grant a divorce from his first wife. Once he had destroyed papal authority and looted its property, he disappointed reformers by largely preserving Catholic credos such as priestly celibacy and transubstantiation. His death and the accession of 9-year-old Edward saw the Anglican Church’s transformation into a recognizably Protestant body, which his Catholic sister and successor, Mary, could not reverse in a stormy five-year reign. By this point, readers may be wearying of interminable, fierce and bloody religious controversy, a feeling Elizabeth shared. But religion obsessed 16th-century Britons, so her efforts to cool matters were only partly successful, but she proved a prudent, less bloodthirsty ruler and the most admirable Tudor. As usual, Ackroyd is a fine guide.

A solid multivolume popular history: readable, entirely nonrevisionist and preoccupied by politics, religion and monarchs—a worthy rival to Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00362-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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