Fiennes does his ancestors justice with this fascinating and immensely readable narrative of Agincourt.




A personal history commemorating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt by a direct descendant of nobility who fought on both sides of the battle.

Few events in history have had such a lasting impact as Agincourt. On that fateful day exactly 600 years ago this Oct. 25, armies allied to King Henry V of England and King Charles VI of France met in the decisive battle of the Hundred Years’ War. Though the war continued for several years after Agincourt, the English victory at Agincourt ensured, through Henry’s later marriage to Charles’ daughter Katherine, future stability and equitable relations between France and England, conditions that would provide the foundation for the emergence of both countries’ modern national identities. Though there is no shortage of historical analyses of the battle and war, famed explorer and prolific author Fiennes (Cold: Extreme Adventures at the Lowest Temperatures on Earth, 2013, etc.) provides a unique perspective of medieval history as a direct ancestor of nobility that fought for both the English and French at Agincourt. To understand how such a seeming contradiction could be true, the author begins his conversational and well-paced history at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, in which William of Normandy’s conquest of Britain enmeshed the politics of the French crown with the English. As a result, William’s victory set in motion the series of events that would lead directly to the Hundred Years’ War. As for Fiennes, whose lineage can be traced all the way back to Charlemagne, his ancestors controlled the Boulogne region of France and were allied to William. Receiving patronage for their loyalty, they controlled areas of both England and their native France. However, subsequent kings tested allegiances, and eventually, Fiennes’ ancestors would be divided by ensuing conflicts before facing off at Agincourt.

Fiennes does his ancestors justice with this fascinating and immensely readable narrative of Agincourt.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-915-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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