Organized, accessible history for everyone.

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FIGHTING OVER THE FOUNDERS

HOW WE REMEMBER THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

This populist study of recent speeches, films and published works reveals the many uses of America’s founding ideals.

Schocket (History and American Culture Studies/Bowling Green State Univ.; Founding Corporate Power in Early National Philadelphia, 2007) has sifted through reams of material, film and text over the last 15 years and even embarked on his own treks to national historic sites like Mount Vernon and Colonial Williamsburg for a firsthand look at how the American Revolution is presented to the masses. He sees the allusions to the Founding Fathers and revolutionary heroes in speeches by Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama and in best-sellers like David McCullough’s John Adams or PBS’s animated Liberty’s Kids as serving one of two points of view: An “essentialist” approach holds the memory of the founding myth as unchanging, true and knowable—i.e., the conservative approach. The “organicist” viewpoint maintains a more fluid approach, seeing America as an evolving theater of multicultural and feminist principles—i.e., the liberal approach. The mere mention of “founding fathers” seems to be a catchphrase for many essentialist notions, such as whiteness, gun possession, right-to-life, even Christian, while the Constitutional phrases “more perfect union” and “created equal” sum up many of the organicists’ tenets, such as dedication to equality and belief in progress. The discovery by DNA proof that Thomas Jefferson fathered children by his black slave Sally Hemings has blown open the neat-and-tidy mythology of the upright and incorruptible Founding Fathers and forced a reckoning with a more complicated, messy story. Schocket’s visits to such historic sites as the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum and Philadelphia’s private National Liberty Museum reveal the array of co-opting of the revolutionary messages. Along with Hollywood’s take, the author delves into recent Constitutional Supreme Court battles and the formation of the Minutemen and tea party movements.

Organized, accessible history for everyone.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0814708163

Page Count: 256

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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