Readable and authoritative history of a phenomenon for the numismatic ages.




A narrative of events shaping the destiny of the 1933 U.S. gold piece that has become the world’s most coveted coin.

Frankel, a senior writer at The American Lawyer, covers much the same ground as David Tripp did in Illegal Tender (2004), which tracked the “last known” example of the famous $20 gold piece to its triumphant sale for more than $7.5 million during a July 2002 auction at Sotheby’s. Tripp, former head of Sotheby’s coin department, captures the intrigue that led to the coin’s 1933 recall just prior to public issue (hence its rarity) and the thrill of the chase as the Secret Service spent decades hunting down the few that were taken out of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia by presumably illicit means. Frankel’s effort touches those bases but puts a sharper focus on the fated coin’s design and creation, as well as the unique circumstances that produced a collectors’ frenzy from a government’s crisis. Readers will learn, for example, that terminally ill sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, approached by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 to design something that would uplift the stature of U.S. coinage, was primarily motivated not by presidential badgering but by the chance to thoroughly vanquish his artistic nemesis: the Mint’s chief engraver, Charles Barber. Revisiting the Sotheby’s auction, the author sets the scene with tightly wired tension that makes this chapter a gripping read despite the known outcome. Finally, in her account of developments following the auction, Frankel describes the chain of events that now, incredibly, put the U.S. government in contention with the heirs of Philadelphia jeweler and gold dealer Israel Switt for rightful ownership of not just one long-suspected remaining Double Eagle but ten of them.

Readable and authoritative history of a phenomenon for the numismatic ages.

Pub Date: May 15, 2006

ISBN: 0-393-05949-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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...


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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