As this erudite but lively survey attests, there was appreciably more than red coats to the British army's splendid uniforms during the Georgian and early Victorian eras. Drawing on a potpourri of contemporary sources and a bit of modern psychology, historian Myerly offers a wide-ranging, interpretive audit of what soldiers of the king (and, later, queen) were wearing (and why) during the first half of the 19th century. While it was the sovereign's prerogative to establish dress codes for the military (which manifested the crown's power), he notes that regimental commanders frequently took liberties with the monarch's designs, at no small cost to the troops. In many instances, the author points out, the demands of appearance over practicality reached ludicrous extremes. Cases in point range from stylish jackets so tight, cavalrymen could not wield their sabers in battle, through cumbersome headgear of the sort that once unhorsed the otherwise dashing duke of Wellington on a windy parade ground. As Myerly makes clear, however, there was considerable method to the costly madness of making fashion plates of prospective combatants. By way of example, he documents how sartorial splendor proved an inducement for recruiters, fostered esprit de corps in times of peace and war, and helped intimidate rebellious mobs when army units were called upon to restore order on the home front. The author goes on to argue that the English public's fondness for pomp, circumstance, and pageantry helped mitigate its instinctive hostility toward the nation's armed forces. Indeed, he observes, civilian apparel borrowed freely from martial livery, while industry, divers elites, and such institutions as the Salvation Army adapted military discipline and its fancy dress to their own ends. A splendid, if special, study that sheds considerable light on the sociopolitical status of the United Kingdom at a time when the island nation was governing a world-class empire. (32 illustrations, half in color, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-674-08249-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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