A heartfelt, well-deserved tribute but a muddle for readers not already familiar with the story.

FREIHEIT!

THE WHITE ROSE GRAPHIC NOVEL

A graphic account of the lives and tragic ends of the young anti-Nazi White Rose martyrs.

Aside from dates, glimpses of documents, and a few invented lines of dialogue, Ciponte’s sketchy narrative text is largely a mix of quotations from classic German writers, Nazi propaganda, and snippets of rhetoric drawn directly from the six exhortatory leaflets (all of which are provided in full as backmatter in an English translation by Arthur R. Schultz) that the White Rose printed and distributed before its abrupt end. This leaves it to the art to create a storyline, and it’s not up to the task, being arranged in loosely sequenced panels, marked by confusingly abrupt changes in time and locale, in which watery figures with hard-to-distinguish features are either posed in static groups or portrayed in head shots. Reproductions of official reports serve in place of explicit depictions of the executions. Russell Freedman’s We Will Not Be Silent (2016) and Kip Wilson’s White Rose (2019) offer a more coherent picture of the short careers of Sophie Scholl and her fellow protesters, but readers will come away appreciating the courage it took for these young collegians to stand up as they did. Though the leaflets are almost unreadably cerebral, they do serve as primary sources for the White Rose’s message.

A heartfelt, well-deserved tribute but a muddle for readers not already familiar with the story. (Graphic nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-87486-344-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Plough

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND

A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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In either iteration, a provocative counter to conventional, blinkered views of our national story.

A DIFFERENT MIRROR FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

A HISTORY OF MULTICULTURAL AMERICA

A classic framing of this country’s history from a multicultural perspective, clumsily cut and recast into more simplified language for young readers.

Veering away from the standard “Master Narrative” to tell “the story of a nation peopled by the world,” the violence- and injustice-laden account focuses on minorities, from African- Americans (“the central minority throughout our country’s history”), Mexicans and Native Americans to Japanese, Vietnamese, Sikh, Russian Jewish and Muslim immigrants. Stefoff reduces Takaki’s scholarly but fluid narrative (1993, revised 2008) to choppy sentences and sound-bite quotes. She also adds debatable generalizations, such as a sweeping claim that Native Americans “lived outside of white society’s borders,” and an incorrect one that the Emancipation Proclamation “freed the slaves.” Readers may take a stronger interest in their own cultural heritage from this broad picture of the United States as, historically, a tapestry of ethnic identities that are “separate but also shared”—but being more readable and, by page count at least, only about a third longer, the original version won’t be out of reach of much of the intended audience, despite its denser prose.

In either iteration, a provocative counter to conventional, blinkered views of our national story. (endnotes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60980-416-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Seven Stories

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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