That aside, Iron Tears does a respectable job of sorting through the causes of the colonial break.




Prolific historian Weintraub (General Washington’s Christmas Farewell, 2003, etc.) turns in a readable survey of the American Revolution, concentrating on political battles more than military ones.

The phrase “iron tears” is Edmund Burke’s. A member of Parliament at the time, Burke worried, Weintraub writes, whether the “inevitable separation” of Britain from its colonies was worth a war that would be fought as much in sadness as in anger. Burke’s peers were less concerned with such things, and when Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766, its members overwhelmingly reasserted that body’s authority to make law and policy for the colonies, much against the wishes of the growing self-rule movement across the water. (Interestingly, Weintraub notes, “one of the tiny band of five peers to vote against the bill . . . in sympathy with colonial grievances was . . . Lord Charles Cornwallis, twenty-seven, and a colonel of the 33rd Foot, who would change his mind when the colonists took to arms.”) Weintraub skillfully guides his readers through the tangled politics of the time, writing of the struggles that surrounded both the revolutionary effort and King George’s campaigns to control his government, particularly as antiwar sentiment grew in London. Along the way, Weintraub explains why it was that George and his commanders resorted early on to the use of mercenary soldiers, so outraging the colonists: The defeated Irish and Scots couldn’t be trusted, and arming proletarian Englishmen posed similar risks. William Pitt correctly predicted the outcome: If foreigners were to occupy his nation, he argued, then, “I would never lay down my arms—never—never—never!” Why, then, would the colonists do otherwise? Weintraub’s accounts of various armed engagements are good but hurried. Readers with an interest in the military history of the Revolution will want to turn to sources such as Robert Middlekauff’s essential The Glorious Cause (1985).

That aside, Iron Tears does a respectable job of sorting through the causes of the colonial break.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2687-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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