Likely to appeal only to military history buffs.




Methodical account of the historic battle between Athens and Sparta that also examines the conflict’s origins and its effects on future military regimes.

Bagnall’s pages strain under a wealth of information as the late British soldier and scholar (1927–2002) strives to detail every facet of the Peloponnesian War. He begins his companion piece to The Punic Wars (1990) by indicating that the book is laid out in much the same way as its predecessor. Various maps delineate the regions affected; a subsequent brief overview sketches the major characters involved. But brevity isn’t really this author’s forte, so the background material is followed by an assiduously researched chapter (“An Historical Survey”) that conveys a welter of information about the various areas. Bagnall carefully builds up to the outbreak of war in 431 b.c. by examining how the Athenian lust for power and supremacy ultimately led to the conflict, then lets loose with his lengthy account of the war in “The Central Theatre.” As battles occasionally occur on small yet significant islands, some cross-referencing to the author’s earlier accounts of various places and characters may be necessary for the casual reader, although Bagnall always takes the time to examine how figures such as Athenian generals Pericles and Demosthenes fared in the midst of the war. It endured for an incredible 27 years—albeit with a six-year truce known as the Peace of Nicias, which began in 421 b.c.—every one of them recounted here in dry, heavily academic prose. The author doesn’t spend much time looking at the far-reaching effects the Spartans’ victory had on the globe, instead choosing to retool his epilogue from The Punic Wars to briefly examine how military procedures were irrevocably changed by the war.

Likely to appeal only to military history buffs.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-34215-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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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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