Not the last, but for now the best, word on a subject basic to American and Caribbean history. (41 b&w illustrations,...

AN EMPIRE DIVIDED

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND THE BRITISH CARIBBEAN

An important scholarly study of how the major colonies of the British West Indies, by not seeking independence alongside the mainland colonies in 1776, contributed to the outcome of the American Revolution.

We tend to forget that 13 British colonies in the Western Hemisphere (those in the Caribbean) did not join the 13 others (those on the continent to the north) in the great 18th-century war for independence from Great Britain. Why? Most historians have cited the islands' vulnerability to British naval attack if they rebelled, their dependence on British markets for their sugar crops, and planters' fear of slave insurrections. O'Shaughnessy (Univ. of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) greatly amplifies these reasons in this comprehensive survey of a question whose answer is necessary for a full understanding of the success of the American revolutionary war. This is the first effort to bring together in a single volume what we know so far about the islands' resistance to rebellion, how their defense by the British siphoned off resources from fighting on the mainland, and how the Revolution's outcome forever affected the islands' history. O'Shaughnessy correctly makes much of the cultural affinities and political ties between the islands and their mother country—ties much stronger than those of most North American colonies. But he doesn't neglect economic or military factors and deftly outlines the divisions within and between the islands about the course to take. Those who might wish for what might have been—independent island nations—will be sobered by the weight of geography, demographics, and social norms that determined what turned out to be a history vastly different from our own, yet profoundly affecting it by helping make American independence possible.

Not the last, but for now the best, word on a subject basic to American and Caribbean history. (41 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-8122-3558-4

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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