An exciting, tragic story seasoned with sensitive social analysis and criticism.

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RUTHLESS TIDE

THE TRAGIC EPIC OF THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD

The ebullient weather personality from NBC’s Today show returns with a flood account that is both intimate and alert to the wealth and class distinctions highlighted by the 1889 Johnstown Flood.

Roker, who wrote about a 1900 hurricane (The Storm of the Century, 2015, etc.), has some sizable footsteps to follow in this one—David McCullough’s 1968 The Johnstown Flood—but he fills them nicely in this fresh account of the Pennsylvania dam break that destroyed Johnstown and killed more than 2,000 people. Roker is especially adept at focusing on key individuals—residents, politicians, movers and shakers, rescue workers—and letting their stories represent the myriads of others. One harrowing tale involves the improbable rescue of a little girl in the swirling torrent that struck the town during a heavy rain when a dam, 14 miles away (and above the town), broke and sent millions of tons of water surging down into Johnstown and some small communities that lay in the torrent’s path. The author is also very alert to the class issues that underlay it all. The earthen dam formed a lake for some very wealthy citizens (among them, Andrew Carnegie), who, of course, denied responsibility afterward. Roker notes that only 35 of the 60 members of this wealthy-person’s club contributed to the relief fund. The author also goes into detail—sometimes too much—about some of the individuals involved: Carnegie, Clara Barton (whose Red Cross would swell in public awareness afterward), and numerous others. He points out some inconsistencies in American thought, as well—about how, for instance, we are quick to help people suffering in a natural disaster but not suffering from everyday poverty and disease. He also discusses some of the nasty anti-immigrant feelings that emerged during the cleanup.

An exciting, tragic story seasoned with sensitive social analysis and criticism.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-244551-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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