The book has all the inevitability and pathos of Greek tragedy, but by maintaining the personal dimension, the author...

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VOYAGERS OF THE TITANIC

PASSENGERS, SAILORS, SHIPBUILDERS, ARISTOCRATS, AND THE WORLDS THEY CAME FROM

A moving account of the people who sailed into maritime history on the doomed Titanic.

In this eloquent, meticulously researched biography of the ship’s international “cast of characters,” biographer, historian and journalist Davenport-Hines (Ettie: The Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough, 2008, etc.) commemorates the centenary of the “most terrible wreck in the history of shipping.” Rather than highlight the class divisions and antagonisms that James Cameron brought to the fore in his 1997 film, the author examines what the actual voyage meant to the different people involved with the ship. For some, an “Atlantic crossing was a regular trip they made twice or more often a year.” For others, the trip meant separation from everything they had ever known. However mundane or momentous, a sea voyage was an event that reshaped human relationships on either side of the Atlantic. In his treatment of the voyagers themselves, Davenport-Hines is as democratic as his premise. He devotes one chapter to each type of person on board—sailors, crewmembers, first-, second- and third-class passengers. His stories about such notable figures as Ben Guggenheim, John Jacob Astor and Lady Duff Gordon stand side by side with those of ordinary men and women. Davenport-Hines also offers compelling portraits of the Titanic's powerful godfathers: “Lord [William James] Pirrie, whose shipyard built it, Bruce Ismay, whose company operated it, and Pierpont Morgan, who owned it.”

The book has all the inevitability and pathos of Greek tragedy, but by maintaining the personal dimension, the author transforms a narrative of monumental hubris meeting human error into a haunting story of real, intersecting lives on a collision course with destiny.

Pub Date: March 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-187684-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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...

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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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