The story of the Winslows is an effective way to experience the emotions and fears of the small band who dauntlessly sailed...




Fraser (The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present, 2005, etc.) personalizes the legend of the Pilgrims by focusing on Edward Winslow and family and their voyage from England to Holland to Plymouth.

In the early 1600s, it was no longer peaceful in Holland. Rather than return to England, Charles I sent the Pilgrims to America to get them out of his hair and to create a bulwark against Catholic Spain. Edward was an enthusiastic, impulsive man, a leader who was influenced throughout his life by a series of significant colleagues, William Bradford especially. Arriving on the Mayflower, 41 adult men signed a compact creating the Plymouth Colony, “the first experiment in consensual government in Western history between individuals with one another, and not with a monarch.” Encountering the Massasoit peoples, the pilgrims were initially afraid but then grateful, as the natives saved them in their first desperate winter. The colonists bought furs and gave strength and backing to the smallpox-depleted Wampanoag tribe. Fraser’s smooth storytelling provides a revealing look into the development of the colony, the rise of the Massachusetts Bay Company, and the different outlooks on the community and the lure of land. The Massasoit relied on Edward to act as middleman as other tribes feared trading with whites. As the population grew, the inevitable troublemakers appeared, including Anne Hutchinson and Uncas, the leader of the Mohegan. Edward fought in the Pequot War, a small conflict that eventually cost the Indians’ trust and led to King Philip’s devastating war. Edward also traveled to England as the colony’s representative and eventually served on a number of Cromwell’s commissions. He was truly a founding father, dealing with every aspect of life in the colony, always showing his spirit and how he “liked fighting for a cause.”

The story of the Winslows is an effective way to experience the emotions and fears of the small band who dauntlessly sailed off to the New World.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10856-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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