From Aswan to Cairo, encompassing deserts and oases, Wilkinson proves to be a pleasant, nondidactic and always-informative...

THE NILE

A JOURNEY DOWNRIVER THROUGH EGYPT'S PAST AND PRESENT

Gently meandering tour of the Nile River in the company of a deeply knowledgeable guide.

To understand the cataclysmic changes gripping Egypt at the moment, eminent British Egyptologist Wilkinson (The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, 2011, etc.) urges a return to the heart of the country, the Nile, the source of the country’s economy, spiritual beliefs and political structure. He moves from Upper Egypt to Lower, starting at the First Cataract, which, until the completion of the High Dam at Aswan in 1964, would send torrents of water from the rains flooding the plains in mid-summer, inundating the fields not just with water, but fertile silt, renewing its annual fecundity and connecting all the settlements along the way. Measured by a rock-cut Nilometer, which allowed the earliest governments literally to plan the year’s budget and wealth, the floods gave rise to the agricultural richness of the region from prehistoric times. The Nubian trading centers near Aswan, the Jewish community that once thrived on Elephantine Island, the great Pharaonic civilizations, and Ptolemaic and Roman periods—all of these civilizations required the ferrying of people and transport of goods and building stones from the quarries. Thanks to later visitors like Napoleon, Scottish painter David Roberts, tour operator Thomas Cook, Victorian tourist Amelia Edwards and amateur archaeologist Lord Carnarvon and others, Egyptian treasures have been revealed and preserved, though also sadly removed from the country. Wilkinson’s erudition is marvelously nuanced—e.g., when he points out how the tomb workers in the village of Deir el-Medina near Thebes went on strike, during the reign of Ramesses III, thus holding the government accountable in what was certainly one of the first instances of civil awareness.

From Aswan to Cairo, encompassing deserts and oases, Wilkinson proves to be a pleasant, nondidactic and always-informative travel companion.

Pub Date: June 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-35155-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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