Scott teaches us that the past is a work in progress influenced by political and religious ideas and powerful rulers and...

ANCIENT WORLDS

A GLOBAL HISTORY OF ANTIQUITY

A welcome broadening of our understanding of antiquity.

In the ancient world, there was a remarkably diverse environment of ideas, knowledge, and beliefs existing among the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, and China. Scott (Classics and Ancient History/Univ. of Warwick; Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World, 2014, etc.) focuses on developing relationships between and within communities from the 6th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. That period was characterized by a significant rethinking of political ideas, societal governance, and interpersonal relationships. The author divides the book into three sections covering political systems, wars, and religion. Of course, the earlier in time a historian searches for sources, the fewer are available, but Scott boldly dives into any and all sources. What little is available was written long after events and was influenced by the chroniclers’ time and tendencies. Many readers of Western history are woefully ignorant of events in China, India, Bactria, and the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires. In this period, wars and political strife did not necessarily lead to collapse. Instead, within the chaos, societies evolved and mutated into fragile new ideologies, subject to both growth and revision. As Antiochus III drove Ptolemy IV out of the Levant, Hannibal almost took over the Roman Empire and Philip V of Greece pretty much got nowhere except to keep switching alliances. In China, the head of the Qin state rejected Confucianism for its opposite, legalism, until it was replaced by the Han dynasty. While violent wars tied ancient worlds together, only two great empires emerged with nothing but instability between. The nomadic peoples, by nature moving with all their goods, also brought religion, from China into India as Christianity moved east across the Silk Road.

Scott teaches us that the past is a work in progress influenced by political and religious ideas and powerful rulers and individuals, and he proves that we need to continue to study and learn.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-465-09472-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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