Packed with more factoids than a game of Trivial Pursuit, and enormously addictive.



A highly satisfying orgy of last facts, compiled by librarian Brahms.

Collected here are some 16,000 lasts: historically significant events, people, places and things that marked the end of an era–some unfortunate, some coming none too soon. Of course, this is a work in progress, not just due to the enduring nature of finality, but also because of the sheer breadth of the topic: the entry regarding the last of the Wild West showmen (Buffalo Bill Cody, by the way) demonstrates just how obscure the categories can become. Some of the material could easily be read as firsts–the last year of a minimum wage was also the first year of a new minimum wage, for instance. And much of the material on the nations of the world simply represents shifts in controlling power—in Samoa, for example, the end of German control was the start of New Zealand's occupation. Nonetheless, who isn't at least mildly interested in any of the following: the last of the Hatfield-McCoy feudists; what happened to the Seven Wonders of the World; the last of the wolves in Scotland; or the many defunct sports teams that used to give so many so much pleasure (within these pages you’ll find the opponent and score of the Boston Bulldogs' final game)? Brahms also includes a satisfying section on language extinction, and he even documents the last spanking of a private-school student in Great Britain (1998). Given the subject matter, it would have been interesting to know which of those highlighted are still alive. Still, for the fact-hound, this one won't be a letdown.

Packed with more factoids than a game of Trivial Pursuit, and enormously addictive.

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9765325-0-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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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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