In the year of her 70th birthday, Elizabeth II of England comes under scrutiny as mother (not quite good enough), wife (better), and constitutional monarch (outstanding). Bradford's work falls into the category of molecular biography—pages of minutiae that very nearly bury the subject and leave the reader gasping for less. But apparently people can't get enough of the British Royals. Bradford (Splendours and Miseries: A Life of Sacheverell Sitwell, 1993, etc.), herself a viscountess, tells all, scandals included. The scandals range from the rumored involvement of Elizabeth's great-great- grandmother Queen Victoria with her servant John Brown to Elizabeth's youngest son's alleged affair with his valet. Detailed looks at the Duke of Windsor's abdication and the family bitterness it caused, Prince Philip's flings (no names, but titles—``a princess, a duchess, two or perhaps three countesses''—and more), and Princess Margaret's ``guttersnipe life'' are titillating and sometimes shocking to casual followers of the Windsor clan. Also scrutinized are the royal finances and the annual peregrinations to family holdings at Sandringham, Balmoral, and Windsor, as well as the fitting and refittings of the royal yacht Britannia, and the queen's fondness for racehorses and corgis. If it was Elizabeth's loose hand on the reins of her family that has contributed to the monarchy being blemished, it may be her dignity and commitment to her nation that saves it. Well informed and professional when she meets with her prime ministers {most of whom have ``fallen in love'' with her, according to Bradford), she works hard and successfully at her role as head of state, a model of ``courage, decency and a sense of duty'' through a period of tumultuous political and social change. No tabloid hype here, but this authoritative biography has enough revealing nuggets scattered through an otherwise flat narrative to keep a royal watcher enthralled. (17 color and 39 b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 16, 1996

ISBN: 0-374-14749-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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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