This colorful narrative succeeds at bringing four historically distant lives closer to us. Tillyard (The Impact of Modernism, not reviewed) reveals the characters of four well-to-do Englishwomen who rode the shifting cultural currents between 1740 and the onset of the Victorian age. While thorough research accounts in part for the range and reach of Aristocrats, the privileged lives of the four sisters themselves gives the author unusual access to extraordinary stories. As the daughters of the second Duke of Richmond (descended from an illegitimate son of Charles II, he was a a cabinet minister and a gentleman-scientist), these intelligent, well-educated women were exposed to the newest ideas of the 18th century, as well as to the latest plays, books, and fashions. Over the course of their lives, each would make strong choices and live—for better or worse—with the consequences. Against her parents' wishes, Caroline Lennox married for love an ungainly, politically ambitious M.P. who nearly became prime minister of England; their elopement created a scandal in London. Her canny younger sister Emily married the senior peer of Ireland when she was 15; she spent his fortune freely and bore him 19 children. Louisa Lennox wed Ireland's richest man. Sarah, the youngest, was courted by King George III, who ultimately humiliated her by marrying a German princess. The Lennox women bore children who became important cultural figures—indeed revolutionaries; Emily's son Edward participated in the Irish Rebellion of the 1790s. Tillyard is adept at showing how the next generation's radicalism was a product of, as well as a reaction against, the family heritage. Using thousands of letters exchanged among the sisters, their lovers, their children, and their friends, Tillyard reconstructs the sisters' relationships to one another, to the others in their lives, and to the changing culture around them. Although the formal history could be more adeptly integrated, Tillyard generally brings the women and their extraordinary world to life.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-10305-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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