Etiquette, it seems, is a complex and involved business, but Goodman helps us navigate the shoals of another era's...



With exhaustive research and in gleeful detail, Goodman (How to Be a Tudor, 2016, etc.) explores the gamut of misconduct in Stuart and Tudor England, including offensive speech and gestures, the perverse delights of mockery and ridicule, the ripostes of physical violence, and a gallery of repellent habits and repulsive displays of bodily functions.

The author has a wicked taste for the objectionable and the wit to deliver it in a wholly enjoyable, even educational way. However, there is a more serious undertone to all of this impropriety, one that regards appropriate comportment and courtesy rituals as the lubrication of societal harmony. Likewise addressed are gender-based double standards (some of which still persist), the religious and public health basis of many of our behavioral prohibitions, dueling, expectations within hierarchies, power dynamics and, not least, British class consciousness. The book overflows with historical curiosities, interesting asides, and eyebrow-raising aha moments. Goodman also shows how one period's grave insult, verbal or gestural, was trifling to the next, even within the space of a generation or two. “Different behaviors shifted from good to bad and back again with disconcerting frequency,” writes the author, requiring a chameleon's adaptability. Goodman’s voice is tongue-in-cheek as often as scholarly, revealing how much of today's uncouth and loutish behavior has its antecedents in Elizabethan times. The book also is a primer for modern-day mischief-makers who can't resist thumbing their noses at the social mores of the “respectables.” The author posits that bad behavior can be far more revealing of a time and culture than the exercise of rectitude, largely because history has reckoned with it far more eagerly. She demonstrates this truism with a wealth of amusing evidence. Still, it can be a bit much; even Miss Manners might tire of so much minutiae.

Etiquette, it seems, is a complex and involved business, but Goodman helps us navigate the shoals of another era's sensibilities in a way that is also illuminating of our own.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-511-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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