A stimulating analysis of the role ideology has played in shaping our murderous century. Conquest (Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; The Great Terror, The Harvest of Sorrow, etc.) has reworked old essays and added some new ones to produce this treatise. In the first part, entitled “Mindslaughter,” he concentrates on his specialty, the Soviet Union. The fallacies of Marxism and Communism are exposed in all their weakness. Conquest demonstrates the inconsistencies of the Marxian utopian vision, contrasting it with the grotesque violence the idealists Lenin and Stalin visited upon their own people in the name of building Socialism. He chronicles the corruption of the Soviet system, and shows how pathological lying at all levels of society made the U.S.S.R., with its revolutionary ideology and military might, a menace to world peace. For Conquest, the power of ideas joined the force of a restrictive mindset to make the Soviets a world power, but also kept their economy backward, leading ultimately to the nation’s demise. However, the Sovietologist stretches credulity in Part Two, entitled “Facing the Consequences.” He advocates for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, mocks as folly the concept of a “United States of Europe,” and denigrates the modest achievements of the U.N. In addition, his advocacy for an “Association” of Albion and its inheritors (the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) as the best way to spread progress in the world smacks of xenophobia. He discounts the impediments that geography imposes, and downplays the internal problems and differences inherent in Anglophile nations. Regrettably, he excludes Western Europe and Japan from this “Association,” assuming that it makes more sense for the Anglo cousins to continue holding hands with the mother country than to join in spreading the gospel of civility and freedom to their neighbors, even though the many economic and political crises since 1989 clearly show the need for shining lights in all areas of the globe. This ideological polemic, which asserts that British colonialism was not all that imperialistic, and that the McCarthyites were right because the Soviets were intent on the West’s destruction, mars what is otherwise a perceptive and informative set of essays.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-393-04818-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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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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