Although the scholarship is stellar, readers may yearn for more attitude and animation from the author.



A scholarly study of the interactions among families—from wealthy landowners to impecunious African and Indian slaves—in New London, Conn., in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Di Bonaventura, an assistant dean (Graduate School of Arts and Science/Yale Univ.), debuts with this adaptation of her doctoral dissertation, and it retains the strengths and weaknesses of that type of writing. Her research is thorough and imaginative. Although much of the story rests on the diary of Joshua Hempstead—a diary he kept assiduously for 47 years—di Bonaventura also explores other significant primary documents from churches and various civic and private archives, integrating the work of other historians of the region and time. The titular “Adam”—Adam Jackson—was a black slave whom Hempstead—a shipwright, farmer and respected local citizen—purchased when his sons were beginning to move on to form their own families. Virtually all of what we know about Jackson’s time with the Hempsteads comes from the slave owner’s diary, but di Bonaventura uses inference and documentary sources to flesh out his story of long, dutiful servitude. She also interweaves the stories of Jackson’s family with those of other significant families—e.g., the Livingstons, the Rogers and the Winthrops. Throughout the relevant decades, these families interacted in various ways—in church, public forums, courtrooms, etc. Di Bonaventura offers some gripping stories—notably, John Jackson’s (Adam’s father) fierce attempts to keep his family together, poor Mary Livingston’s losing battle with cancer and the nasty nature of John Winthrop IV. The author pauses occasionally to instruct us about the importance of stone and wood, the legal system, Indian tribes, shipbuilding, the Great Awakenings and much more. Her voice remains generally detached and scholarly throughout.

Although the scholarship is stellar, readers may yearn for more attitude and animation from the author.

Pub Date: April 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-87140-430-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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