Fine reading for an ocean cruise.



A lively, well-researched history of the race, technological and commercial, to send steam-powered vessels across the pond.

Canadian entrepreneur Samuel Cunard and British engineer Isambard Brunel independently recognized how difficult achieving such a goal would be, writes Fox (Big Leagues, 1994): the technology of steam-driven engines, introduced a generation before, was certainly perfectible and adaptable to the task, but the Atlantic Ocean posed its own challenges in the form of huge storms and swift currents; “the Atlantic to America,” Cunard remarked, “is the worst navigation in the world. The westerly winds prevail very much, and you have ice and fog to contend with.” Still, with the sweeping successes of the railroad and the fortunes it promised, both men labored endlessly, though with different approaches, to find the investors and equipment to make the passage possible. Brunel, who suffered from seasickness and never undertook an ocean voyage until the last year of his long life, introduced brute-force designs, with alloy hulls and screws to do Archimedes proud, that seem intended to cow the sea into submission, and his huge steam vessel, the Great Western, was the first to cross the waters in 1838; Cunard, more concerned with creature comforts and elegance, settled for second place in the race, but built a great fleet of ships that were the finest of their time. One fan of Cunard’s fleet was Mark Twain, who luxuriated aboard ships such as the Batavia on his world tours, but who was quick to shift loyalties when a competitor, the Inman Line, launched the still more elegant City of Chester in 1873. Though synonymous with ocean crossing, the Cunard Line fell into neglect with the death of Samuel and transfer of ownership to his uninterested sons. The company would make a memorable comeback, however, in the early 1900s with two magnificent ships—the Mauretania and her ill-fated sister, Lusitania.

Fine reading for an ocean cruise.

Pub Date: July 4, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-019595-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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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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