Agreeable, old-fashioned cultural history: heavy on anecdotes, light on analysis.




From literary scholar Weber (Hired Pens, 1997, etc.), a vivid account of colorful characters and mostly ephemeral publications enlivening expatriate life from the end of the First World War to the beginning of the Second.

Notwithstanding his academic credentials (American Studies Emeritus/Univ. of Notre Dame), the author doesn’t provide any unifying themes or discern any lasting cultural contributions made by the Americans who financed their agreeable sojourns overseas by writing, editing and proofreading for the not-terribly-distinguished newspapers and magazines published for their fellow expatriates. Instead, his enjoyable narrative offers lots of good stories about late nights, hard drinking and minimal amounts of work at the Paris Herald, the Paris Tribune and the Paris Times, as well as such magazines as The Boulevardier and the Paris Comet. A separate chapter chronicles the more substantive accomplishments of foreign correspondents for the Paris bureaus of American newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the New York Herald-Tribune as the threat of war darkened Europe. Female correspondents like the New Yorker’s Janet Flanner and the intrepid Martha Gellhorn and Dorothy Thompson (both of whom ranged far afield from Paris) also get their due, and another chapter examines the fiction produced when journalists got off their day jobs—Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer being the only enduring work in this category. In contrast, the bestselling memoirs of their European stints by Vincent Sheean, John Gunther and William L. Shirer remain widely read today. Other still-well-known names dotting the text include Ernest Hemingway, Eric Sevareid, Walter Kerr and Edward R. Murrow, who worked from London but recruited many Paris-based journalists for CBS Radio’s fledgling overseas coverage. But the more typical protagonists here are such semi-famous sorts as Waverly Root, Elliot Paul and Harold Stearns, most of whom bounced from paper to magazine to paper while enjoying la vie de bohème and—most notably in Stearns’s case—failing to live up to early predictions of their shining literary promise.

Agreeable, old-fashioned cultural history: heavy on anecdotes, light on analysis.

Pub Date: April 7, 2006

ISBN: 1-56663-676-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2006

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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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