Illuminating and evenhanded; a sturdy companion to Fred Anderson’s The War That Made America (2005) and other recent studies...

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THE DIVIDED GROUND

INDIANS, SETTLERS, AND THE NORTHERN BORDERLAND OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Taylor (American Colonies, 2001, etc.) turns in a grand tale “of mutual need and mutual suspicion” as Americans, Indians and the colonial powers vied for mastery of the 18th-century frontier.

His dramatis personae vast, Taylor here focuses on two men: the infamous Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and the lesser known American revolutionary Samuel Kirkland. Fellow students at a Connecticut boarding school, each fought the other when war came. The Mohawks took the British side not out of any love for an imagined mother country but as an expedient of sorts; by the time Kirkland and Brant first met, a great influx of Yankee settlers had overwhelmed the Algonquians of New England, “confining the survivors . . . in a landscape of colonial farms and commercial seaports,” and the independence-minded Mohawks, part of the Iroquois Confederation, had no illusions about their own fate given the land-hungry, westward-looking immigrant population. France’s surprisingly swift collapse following defeat in the Seven Years’ War meant that England was the default choice for protection, with the fox-in-the-henhouse nature of the colonial militia and the Iroquois’ misgivings over “the ability of the untrained and poorly equipped Patriots to compete with the superior discipline and arms of the British regulars.” Kirkland, a minister who came to believe that “the Christian religion was not designed for Indians,” and his fellow frontier colonists, proved a tough enough foe, and in all events, Brant was distracted by the constant need to convince the British that the Indians were not pawns, but “distinct allies, separate and equal.” No such understanding ensued. The British were defeated, and Brant’s followers went into exile in Canada shamefaced but with their suspicions confirmed: In no time, the Yankees had overwhelmed the Iroquois, too, backed by a new government that, unlike Britain’s, “was more solicitous of squatters’ votes than Indians’ rights.”

Illuminating and evenhanded; a sturdy companion to Fred Anderson’s The War That Made America (2005) and other recent studies of the colonial and postcolonial frontier.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-679-45471-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2006

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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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