An action-packed political and military history that will remind readers of the Italian sea power that prevailed for...

READ REVIEW

CITY OF FORTUNE

HOW VENICE RULED THE SEAS

The only seas Venice ruled were the Mediterranean and Black, but it dominated European trade from 1000 to 1500, an achievement that owes much to its citizens’ energy and freedom but mostly to their willingness to fight.

While mildly neglected compared to Britain and France, Venice receives a stirring account from British historian Crowley (Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World, 2008, etc.). The author concentrates on its golden years and the wars that made them possible, passing over its great but less-pugnacious cultural accomplishments. Isolated by Adriatic’s lagoons, Venice escaped barbarian invasions that ended the Western Roman Empire. One of the few areas of Italy still ruled from Constantinople by the Byzantine Empire, it prospered throughout the Middle Ages. Despite its nominal subservience, Venice eagerly accepted an immense fee to build an massive fleet and transport the Crusaders who sacked Constantinople in 1204, after which it added many formerly Byzantine cities and islands to its growing trading empire. It continued to flourish despite competition from other Italian cities and encroachment from the steadily expanding Ottoman Empire. Between brutal naval wars with the Turks, it was happy to trade, a policy that outraged the Vatican and other Christian nations. After 1500, ships from Portugal, Spain, Britain and Holland began sailing across the Atlantic to America and around Africa to Asia, beginning Venice’s decline.

An action-packed political and military history that will remind readers of the Italian sea power that prevailed for centuries before Western European nations arrived on the scene.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6820-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more