Robust, memorable reading that will appeal to Civil War buffs, professional historians and general readers alike.

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A stirring account of the “greatest and most violent collision the North American continent [has] ever seen,” just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Though the battle site was not inevitable, the actual battle was: The giant armies of North and South were destined to lumber into one another in a time when, as Guelzo (Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction, 2012, etc.) cites a Confederate officer as observing, they “knew no more about the topography of the country than they did about Central Africa.” What is certain is that Robert E. Lee’s arrival in Pennsylvania sent “Yankeedom,” to quote another Confederate officer, “in a great fright.” The Union had reason to be concerned, but, as Guelzo documents, their foe was scattered and divided, with rivalries and miscommunication—and perhaps even insubordination—keeping James Longstreet from attacking, J.E.B. Stuart from arriving on the battlefield in time, and the much-disliked George Pickett from enjoying a better fate than being cannon fodder. And what fodder: If there is a leitmotif in Guelzo’s book, it is the image of brains being distributed on the grass and the shirts of fellow soldiers, of limbs disappearing and soldiers on both sides disintegrating in a scene of “muskets, swords, haversacks, human flesh and bones flying and dangling in the air or bouncing above the earth.” The author ably, even vividly, captures the hell of the battlefield while constantly keeping the larger scope of Gettysburg in the reader’s mind: It was, he argues, the one central struggle over one plank of the Civil War, namely the preservation of the Union, that nearly wholly excluded the other one, the abolition of slavery.

Robust, memorable reading that will appeal to Civil War buffs, professional historians and general readers alike.

Pub Date: May 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-59408-2

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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