Fast-moving and intriguing, in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark.



From filmmaker Kirkpatrick (The Revenge of Thomas Eakins, 2006, etc.), a vivid true-crime narrative about a post–World War II investigation meant to prevent Nazis still at large from using several venerable medieval artifacts to reconstitute the Reich.

In early 1945, Lt. Walter Horn—an expatriate from the Fatherland with an academic background in art history—learned of a bunker underneath Nuremberg’s castle housing secret treasures, known to only a few, including Heinrich Himmler. Before long, Horn received orders to locate five crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire that had gone missing from the “Blacksmith’s Alley” bunker, part of a larger cache that Hitler had seized from Austria near the beginning of the war. Of particular interest was the “Holy Lance” of Longinus, reputed to have pierced Jesus’ side at the Crucifixion. Using military records, correspondence, diaries, interviews and archival materials, Kirkpatrick shows how scholar-soldier-sleuth Horn overcame a foot-dragging American captain whose own sloppy supervision had caused the relics’ loss, former Nazi functionaries reluctant to divulge all they knew and an Allied Occupation authority anxious to establish their competence before a starving, resentful population. In the process, he throws light on how Hitler’s obsession with “cherished symbols of the medieval concept of world government” probably influenced the dictator’s henchmen, who not only created a pseudo-scholarly think tank about the nation’s Aryan past but also Nuremberg’s Nazi parade grounds in the shape of the Holy Lance. Kirkpatrick also considers the possibilities that Himmler formed a Teutonic brotherhood of knights to protect the treasure and that Hitler’s deluded interpretation of the relics might have helped him justify the Holocaust.

Fast-moving and intriguing, in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-9062-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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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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