Fluently written, constantly surprising—and timely, in a between-the-lines sort of way.

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SAVAGE PEACE

HOPE AND FEAR IN AMERICA, 1919

The armistice was signed, most of the men were coming home, but, writes Hagedorn (Beyond the River, 2003, etc.), “the nation was not demobilizing for peace, but in fact preparing for the next heroic campaign.”

Hagedorn writes that the immediate aftermath of the Allied victory in Europe was the onset of a paranoid anti-communism, of anti-all-things-un-Americanism, in fact, in which domestic spying was at a level about which the current attorney general can thus far only dream. All were suspect. When, shortly after the armistice, Woodrow Wilson left Washington to lobby for a League of Nations, an opposition senator urged that the president had abandoned the country and should be considered merely another citizen abroad. African-Americans who marched against lynching were pegged as dangerous radicals, while returning African-American soldiers, Wilson himself proclaimed, were perhaps “the greatest medium in carrying Bolshevism to America.” Suffragists were assumed to be foreign agents; politicians and parents who requested news of a lost American column deep inside Russia, fighting Bolshevism in its homeland, accumulated thick files. It was a time of the Palmer Raids, of J. Edgar Hoover’s debut, of a widespread disregard for constitutional niceties in the zealous quest to purge America of domestic enemies. Admittedly, writes Hagedorn, the anti-communists had something to worry about; after all, thousands of returning soldiers, disillusioned by war, were jobless even as formerly thriving war industries were laying off workers; black Americans were getting sick of Jim Crow and lynching; women were pressing for the right to vote. Apart from a few heroes such as Hiram Johnson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, the government seemed to be set against every American ideal—and things became still worse in 1920.

Fluently written, constantly surprising—and timely, in a between-the-lines sort of way.

Pub Date: April 10, 2007

ISBN: 0-7432-4371-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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