Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.



A detailed examination of Winston Churchill the author.

British historian Clarke (Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist, 2009, etc.) has studied Churchill for decades, but the author has been bothered by a gap in the scholarship concerning the critical evaluation of the statesman’s literary interests. Churchill, born to a privileged life, began writing and publishing learned, well-written books while still in his 20s. He expected renown as an author, never anticipating that his apparently washed-up political career would be rejuvenated by World War II. Clarke is most interested in the decades-long gestation of the four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. The project would have been massive if Churchill had committed to no other ventures, but the difficulty expanded exponentially because he had agreed to write so many other books, partly because of his desire to attract audiences, partly because his spendthrift ways left him almost perpetually in debt. Clarke clearly admires Churchill's talent and persistence as an author, but he is candid about Churchill's periodic bouts of procrastination and outright lies to publishers about the pace of manuscript progress. As Churchill realized he would never finish all of his book projects unaided, he relied on the scholarship of others (both compensated and uncompensated). Clarke provides painstakingly researched accounts of the individuals who might have earned the status of co-author in a world less seduced by famous names. The author’s elucidation of Churchill the writer necessarily delves into biographical elements, including the influences of Churchill's glamorous, famous father and mother on the son's writings.

Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60819-372-1

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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