Enjoyable for gardeners and lovers of quaint British landscapes.

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SISSINGHURST

VITA SACKVILLE-WEST AND THE CREATION OF A GARDEN

British gardener Raven (Wild Flowers, 2012) integrates Sackville-West’s writings into a gardener’s guide to one of England’s finest landscapes, which was laid out with a studied nonchalance.

The book is packed with photographs, a boon for readers unfamiliar with botanical terminology, though Raven kindly adds some English equivalents for many of the named species. The opening short history of Sissinghurst from the 16th century is actually unnecessary. The real story is Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson. (Raven lives on the grounds with her husband, Adam Nicolson, Sackville-West’s grandson.) Vita grew up at Knole, a beautiful estate and stately home in Kent. Since she was female, she was unable to inherit Knole when her parents died. Sissinghurst, 20 miles away, came up for sale, and Vita viewed the derelict house and grounds as a Sleeping Beauty in need of rescue. Harold laid out the bones of the garden, executing the structure of walks, hedges and intimate small rooms. Vita’s hand can be seen everywhere. She demanded absolute lack of formality and planted Harold’s formal structure with a maximum of informality. Her style displayed a fine carelessness caught between the wild and the controlled, and her overall philosophy became, “Cram, cram, cram, every chink and cranny.” Due to her time on the grounds, Raven ably describes the beauty of Sissinghurst. “An enchanting garden like Sissinghurst is, I would say, at its most beautiful at precisely the point where its informality is about to tip over into chaos,” she writes. Devoted gardeners will relish the lists of plants favored by Sackville-West, and those who dabble in gardening will learn that gardens aren’t made in a day, a year or even a decade.

Enjoyable for gardeners and lovers of quaint British landscapes.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-06005-1

Page Count: 386

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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