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

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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