A monumental history of this lost civilization, invaluable to scholars but otherwise of limited appeal.




An ambitious scholarly work spanning eight centuries, from 150 years before the founding of Carthage by Phoenicians to its obliteration by the Romans in 146 BCE.

From its location in modern Tunisia, Carthage sat astride the east-west trade routes from the Levant to Spain, and north-south routes from Sardinia to Carthage itself. The city’s settlers colonized southern Spain, Sardinia and western Sicily, and for three centuries the Carthaginian navy controlled the Mediterranean. Ultimately, Carthage collided with Rome in Sicily, setting off the first of the three Punic Wars that would end in the city’s destruction. In his book-length debut, Miles (History/Univ. of Sydney) sets forth in exhaustive detail the ebb and flow of Carthaginian influence in the central Mediterranean as the city engaged in constant competition with the Hellenistic city-states of the region for resources and power. A parallel theme is the cultural contest among Carthage, the Greek states and ultimately Rome for the mantle of successor to Heracles and Alexander, a propaganda battle carried out through images on coins, erection of temples, religious ceremonies and feats of arms. Miles distills a balanced account of the city’s history from the generally hostile surviving ancient sources, scrupulously explaining what he accepts and rejects from them and why. While this may be regarded as the definitive political and military history of Carthage for years to come, it is not recommended for the general reader, who will find no clear picture of Carthaginian civilization in the round, contrasted with the more familiar Greek, Roman and Egyptian cultures. What did this great city look like to a visitor? What were its values and aesthetics, its architecture and philosophy, its religious and legal institutions? What was the role of women in Carthaginian society? What did the world lose when this city was destroyed? The answers are not here, and the absence of a well-developed social dimension leaves the annals of cities won and lost feeling rather dry and lacking in context.

A monumental history of this lost civilization, invaluable to scholars but otherwise of limited appeal.

Pub Date: July 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-02266-3

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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

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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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