This book is for those with a legal bent who enjoy the question more than the solution. While certainly erudite, the text is...

FRONTIERS OF POSSESSION

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL IN EUROPE AND THE AMERICAS

Herzog (Latin American Affairs/Harvard Univ.; Defining Nations: Immigrants and Citizens in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America, 2003) examines the border disputes between Spain and Portugal, comparing the players and difficulties of the two widely distant and differing situations.

Readers will need a background in the history of the area, including the original formation of Portugal and the union of the two countries from 1580 to 1640. In the South American holdings, discovery was not necessarily sufficient to claim territory. The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1506 was designed to divide the New World and Africa between the two states, but even that created more confusion. Spain discovered, but Portugal settled. Then it was a question of whether the Spanish Jesuits or the Portuguese Carmelites had achieved civic allegiance of the natives after converting them. The author poses questions of jurisdiction and cites Roman law, bulls, treaties and natural law, but she never expounds on the details, only briefly citing the interlocutors. In the second half of the book, Herzog deals with border conflicts on the Iberian Peninsula, which have raged for hundreds of years. For the most part, these were small disputes over grazing land, agriculture or fishing rights that were generally ignored by the kings, with local resolutions lasting for decades or centuries but conflict always popping up again. “They occurred spontaneously when the situation so required…yet their persistence and change over time ended up restructuring both territories and rights.” The author presents readers with a variety of parallel situations that were dealt with using entirely different, not always efficient methods. If the kings of Portugal and Spain couldn’t be bothered with these small property disputes, one might ask why readers should.

This book is for those with a legal bent who enjoy the question more than the solution. While certainly erudite, the text is long and confusing, and many readers will wonder where the author is heading.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0674735385

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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