Novelist and historian Ellis (7he Rising of the Moon, 1987; The History of the Irish Working Class, 1973) offers a limpidly penned account of the racially tense, culturally fruitful relationship between the Romans and the Celts of Italy during the growth of the Roman Republic (390—191 b.c.). The Romans’ first military encounters with Celts are popularly thought to have been Julius Caesar’s conquests of Gaul in the first century b.c.. However, as the author points out, Romans encountered the warlike Celts on the Italian peninsula early in the development of the Roman super-state, and their initial experiences did not inspire confidence in the ultimate triumph of Roman arms. In 390 b.c., a Celtic army under a chieftain named Brennus defeated the Roman army in the battle of Allia; the ensuing occupation of Rome lasted seven months, until the Roman Senate bought off the Celts. The legacy of this humiliation, Ellis contends, was an enduring Roman hatred for the Celts that ultimately resulted in Roman destruction of Celtic civilization wherever the Romans found it. The author argues that the Roman-Celtic wars of the 200 years following the battle of Allia determined the course of the Roman Empire. While the “Celtic terror” continued to infect northern Italy and menace Rome, the Romans gradually learned to counter the Celtic tactic of massed charges—the Romans lost many battles but in the fateful battle of Telamon (225 b.c.) destroyed a large Celtic army that threatened the peninsula. This victory presaged final Roman triumph, although they continued to have trouble with the Celts during Hannibal’s invasion of Italy. Although the Celts were ultimately subjugated and absorbed into Roman society, Ellis argues that they made lasting contributions to Roman literature, culture, and even military science. Writing from a deep knowledge of Celtic culture, Ellis vividly evokes the clash between two proud societies. (8 pages b&w illustrations, maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-21419-7

Page Count: 284

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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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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