The drama of England gathers momentum in this second volume, as the Tudors take over and the War of the Roses comes to an end with the death of Richard III. Churchill's genius for bringing the complex threads together into a coherent whole is challenged in the immensity of this task — and he comes through triumphant. While scholars may quibble over his unremitting acceptance of color, pattern and viewpoint as he sees it, the average reader will find it easy to accept this as definitive. The princes were murdered with Richard's connivance; Mary Queen of Scots did conspire with her ministers against the life of Elizabeth; Oliver Cromwell was a cold-blooded though reluctant- dictator; the summons of William of Orange and his wife, Mary, saved England when her liberties, religious and political, were threatened, etc., etc. The sweep of story and history, of personalities and the motives that swayed them are sharply etched, as Sir Winston covers the eventful years from the accession of Henry VII to the exile of James II. The reigns in particular of Henry VIII, Elizabeth, of Charles I, of the Roundheads under Cromwell accent complete achievement, reversal, threat, triumph of the essential factors that made England. One has a rounded sense of the dominant figures, the issues and their resolution, the economic, political and social changes taking place. One gets less than might be wished of the artistic and creative sides of life. But one gets more of the scope of England's achievement, the penetration into a world beyond its own shores, and the formulation of the basic tenets of their creed. December Book of the Month selection gives this command performance status, and all who read The Birth Of Britain will provide a waiting market for Vol. II.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 1956

ISBN: 030436391X

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1956

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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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