Rich in intrigue, Ward’s book offers not only an enlightening look at the two men who defined Queen Victoria to the future,...




An Australian historian’s study of the two men who edited Queen Victoria’s letters and how their methods and choices affected posterity’s view of her.

Queen Victoria (1819–1901) was a remarkably prolific correspondent. According to some historians, she produced upward of “two and half thousand words each day of her adult life [and] sixty million words in the course of her reign.” When she died, her son, Edward VII, commissioned a well-respected official, Reginald Brett, otherwise known as the second Lord Esher, to produce a memorial biography of the late queen. Esher in turn decided to create a publishable collection of her letters up to the death of Albert in 1861. Realizing he could not do the task alone, Esher hired noted essayist, poet and Eton academic Arthur Benson to assist. Esher wanted to create a two-volume collection that focused on Victoria’s relationship to the men who shaped her as a ruler. Benson, however, sought to emphasize the historical and social events in which the queen participated and proposed adding up to two more volumes. Neither sought to consider Victoria’s roles as wife, mother and friend to other women. In her analysis of these two biographers, Ward examines the complex working relationship between them. In particular, she focuses on their internal power plays, which stemmed from their very different temperaments and social classes. Wealthy, charming and polished, Esher had all the advantages, including access to, and influence over, King Edward. Though born to an upper-middle-class family with good connections, the depressive Benson often found himself at odds with aristocrats, even as he struggled to gain acceptance into their circles.

Rich in intrigue, Ward’s book offers not only an enlightening look at the two men who defined Queen Victoria to the future, but also the ways that notions about gender influenced early-20th-century biographical portraiture.

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78074-363-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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...


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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