A brief, useful history of the conquerors who came from East and West to build a series of states that continue the fight to...

DEFENDING THE CITY OF GOD

A MEDIEVAL QUEEN, THE FIRST CRUSADES, AND THE QUEST FOR PEACE IN JERUSALEM

The author of The Real History Behind the Templars (2007) chronicles how the first two crusades helped establish the face of the Middle East.

Pope Urban II’s First Crusade brought a minor lord of France, Baldwin of le Bourq, to the Holy Land, and he married an Armenian noblewoman. It was their daughters, Melisende and Alice, who ended up ruling Jerusalem and Antioch—but it was far from a foregone conclusion. As Newman (Death Before Compline: Short Stories, 2012, etc.) writes, “[i]t would have been a brave prophet who would have dared to predict that Melisende would become queen of anything.” The author provides solid insight into the violent history of an area alternately claimed by Turks, Armenians, Jews, Franks (as the crusaders were called), and Shia and Sunni Muslims. Newman builds her story on the few sources available—e.g., the writings of Fulcher of Chartres and Ibn al-Qalanisi, both of which are decidedly skewed—and that difficulty impedes the flow of the narrative as it necessarily jumps from kingdom to kingdom. The author follows the daughters of Baldwin as their husbands are chosen: Melisende’s husband, Fulk of Anjou, was grandfather to Henry II of England, and he was to be a co-ruler and defender of her kingdom. Alice’s husband, Bohemond, died in battle, leaving her to defend and eventually rule Antioch. Raymond of Poitiers was brought in to be husband to Alice’s daughter, Constance, and he became uncle to Eleanor of Aquitaine, soon to arrive as part of the disastrous Second Crusade. “The damage done by the failed Second Crusade,” writes the author, “led to the rise of the emir Saladin and the fall of the city of Jerusalem to him twenty years after Melisende’s death.”

A brief, useful history of the conquerors who came from East and West to build a series of states that continue the fight to this day.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-137-27865-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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