Thoughtful and readable: a valuable contribution to Civil War–era history.



A fluent study of a transformative document in American history.

Guelzo (History/Eastern Univ.) views Abraham Lincoln as the last politician of the Enlightenment—that revolutionary school of thought that favored reason over religion, argued for the natural rights of humankind, and prized the little-remembered virtue of prudence, which, “unlike mere moderation, has a sense of purposeful motion and declines to be paralyzed by a preoccupation with process, even while it remains aware that there is no goal so easily attained or so fully attained that it rationalizes dispensing with process altogether.” So it was, Guelzo continues, when Lincoln declared that slaves in the rebellious territories of the US were henceforth free. Lincoln’s order, as many historians have observed, was written in uncharacteristically uninspired language; but, Guelzo notes, whereas the Gettysburg Address was plainly meant to thrill its audience, the Emancipation Proclamation “is a legal document, and legal documents cannot afford much in the way of flourishes. They have work to do.” True enough, and Guelzo does a fine job of linking the legal complexities hidden within the document to other contemporary legal issues, such as Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Controversies surrounding the Proclamation developed not just in the courtroom, but everywhere on the Northern street; though Lincoln, asked whether he were an abolitionist, had once admitted, “I am mighty near one,” most of his compatriots were more concerned with preserving the Union than with freeing slaves and indeed actively opposed the latter. Yet Lincoln braved the act, despite fears that the federal army might rise up against him in a coup and certainty that he would court plenty of enemies in the bargain. Of particular interest to legal-minded readers are the various drafts of the Proclamation that Guelzo includes as appendixes, which tell a story all their own.

Thoughtful and readable: a valuable contribution to Civil War–era history.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-2182-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2003

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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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