Rigorously researched, intelligent, compassionate. A tour de force. (2 maps, 50 illustrations, not seen)




Masterfully demonstrating that truth can trump fiction, English travel writer Dalrymple (From the Holy Mountain, 1998, etc.) relates a wrenching tale of love’s labors lost on the Indian subcontinent.

In the last years of the 18th century, Major James Achilles Kirkpatrick, British Resident at the Court of Hyderabad, fell in love with and eventually married Khair un-Nissa Begum, a bright and beautiful teenager, the great-niece of the local diwan (prime minister). The couple’s son and daughter went to live in England with their paternal grandfather and never saw their mother again. The daughter, Kitty, later became the object of Thomas Carlyle’s amorous attentions (unconsummated) and served as the model for a character in Sartor Resartus. Dalrymple discovered the threads of this story during a brief sojourn in Hyderabad and quickly realized they could form a most attractive tapestry. His research is extensive, meticulous, even astonishing as he chases his characters across continents, unearthing a surprising number of critical documents that provide fuel for the light he casts over these long-obscured events. The British authorities were so alarmed about their Resident’s behavior that they held several investigations; the author located official reports and quotes liberally from them. But Kirkpatrick was such an asset to the British cause in the region—he negotiated tricky treaties, spoke the local languages, finessed and eventually expelled the French—that he kept his position despite the scandal and the determined efforts to dislodge him made by India’s Governor General, the intractable Richard Wellesley (brother of Arthur, Duke of Wellington). Illness eventually killed Kirkpatrick at age 41, and his widow took up with his assistant, who—unlike his deceased superior—yielded to enormous pressures and gave her up. Dalrymple argues that the Brits “went native” a lot more than has been commonly thought and that West can meet East if love is the lingua franca.

Rigorously researched, intelligent, compassionate. A tour de force. (2 maps, 50 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-670-03184-4

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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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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