Anglophiles will find Bryson’s field notes equally entertaining and educational.



Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927, 2013, etc.) takes us on another fascinating cross-country jaunt.

In 1973, while on a European backpacking tour, the author landed in England, got a job at a psychiatric hospital, met a nurse there, and married her, thus beginning a lifelong love affair with Great Britain, where he’s lived on and off for decades and to which he paid homage in Notes from a Small Island (1996), his first British travelogue. Twenty years later, he again sets out across his adopted land, weaving a great tapestry of historical, cultural, and personal anecdotes along the way. Bryson chronicles his visits to the final resting place of George Everest, a native of Greenwich or Wales (depending upon whom you believe), after whom the Himalayan mountain is misnamed and mispronounced, and his return to Holloway Sanitorium, recalling how the inmates were allowed to roam freely into the nearby town. He expounds on why London is the best city in the world and nominates Oxford as the most pleasant and improved city in Britain, Lytham as the best small town in the north of England, and Morecambe Bay as Britain’s most beautiful bay. En route, we meet myriad colorful historical figures, including an esteemed Nobel laureate who took a side job as a gardener and a Scottish marmalade heir/sexual adventurer who restored the stones at Avebury. Bryson takes a stand against litterbugs and those who would build on London’s Green Belt, and he delves into the history and methodology of British road numbering and the evolution of holiday camps. No words are minced or punches pulled where he finds social decline; he rails against indifferent British shopkeepers and indulges in more than one violent fantasy. However, the majority of his criticisms bear his signature wit, and the bulk of his love/hate relationship with Britain falls squarely on the love side.

Anglophiles will find Bryson’s field notes equally entertaining and educational.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-53928-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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