For fans of Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forester who crave true stories of high adventure in Nelson’s navy—although many of...

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THE SEA WARRIORS

THE FIGHTING CAPTAINS AND THEIR SHIPS IN THE AGE OF NELSON

A historical study of the fighting officers and sailors who served in Great Britain’s powerful navy during the golden age of Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Woodman, best known as an author of historical maritime novels (The Guineaman, 2000, etc.), seems a promising choice to produce a naval history of the Napoleonic Wars. Indeed, he demonstrates an impressive grasp of the era. This extraordinary knowledge of the English captains, ships, crews, tactics, and opponents produces a narrative full of authentic details that should help readers encounter this long-extinct age. The author constructs this quirky history of equal parts military biography, nautical adventure, and naval history. He focuses his writing on the age’s most colorful characters, offering readers observations on the tactical audacity and individual courage of captains like Horatio Nelson and Nisbet Willoughby against their French and American opponents. Between the resulting episodes of broadside cannon fire, exploding fire ships, and sea chases, Woodman pauses to describe the domestic life on the ships, teaching readers about such disparate subjects as the ravishes of scurvy and the monotony of sail trimming. He also finds the space to comment on social injustices, shedding light on the impressment of American merchant seamen, and the beatings and executions of sailors that damaged British recruiting and inspired the era’s infamous mutinies. Too often, Woodman loses his narrative thread in this blizzard of data, making the history seem like a series of richly detailed but loosely stitched together research projects instead of a coherent history.

For fans of Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forester who crave true stories of high adventure in Nelson’s navy—although many of those fans would be better served by numerous, more scholarly histories of the epoch that are readily available.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7867-0855-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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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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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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