There may be no family in the world of whom one reads so much yet knows so little as the British Royal Family, but Flamini (Ava, 1982; Pope, Premier, President, 1980) now gives us an informed and credible if still discreet portrait, timed to coincide with the queen's 65th birthday. Queen Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of Prince Albert, George V`s second son, who grew up very much in the shadow of the more glamorous Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII. When Edward was forced to abdicate, the shy, tongue-tied Albert unexpectedly ascended the throne as George VI. Elizabeth, also shy and sheltered, succeeded him when she was just 25, and has now been on the throne for nearly 40 years. The portrait of her that emerges here is an intriguing one. Much of it is familiar: her conscientiousness, sense of duty, lack of small talk, love of horses, lack of intellectual interests. But much is less well known: she is knowledgeable, well briefed, with definite opinions, often very sensible ones. And much discussed here has been obscure: why has she given Prince Philip, whom she ``adores,'' so much less to do than, say, Queen Victoria gave her adored Albert? Why has she never named Philip Prince Consort? Flamini suggests that it was because of opposition to Philip among Elizabeth's courtiers, who saw him as too blunt, too likely to make waves, at a time when she was young and inexperienced herself and reliant upon their advice; and when she gained confidence, she like her unfettered role. A good read, with a lot of inside detail, but a bit like those broad histories of American political campaigns before Theodore White really started analyzing them.

Pub Date: April 19, 1991

ISBN: 0-385-29917-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

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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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