With a vast dramatis personae and stage, Hyde’s book sheds considerable light on the 19th-century development of the nation....




A sharp reframing of the history of the early Western frontier in personal terms.

At the outset of this elegantly written study, winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for last year’s Pulitzer Prize (the book was first published in 2011 by the University of Nebraska Press), Hyde (History/Colorado Coll.) observes that the Louisiana Purchase did not suddenly dump into the tender hands of the new United States a howling, savage unknown. Instead, granted that the “Anglo-Americans were newcomers in a world that was anything but wilderness,” the vast region was a territory both held together and divided by complex lines of relation, friendship and other affinities elective and otherwise. Within the confines of the West were settlements such as St. Louis, Santa Fe, Nootka and Prairie du Chien whose inhabitants spoke countless languages and were often of mixed ethnicity. It was family connections more than any political or military power that enabled those people to cross lines of nationhood and race; Hyde cites, for instance, the case of William Bent, the founder of Bent’s Fort, Colo., a success as both a trading post and a non-Native American settlement only “because [he] had made familial relationships with the Cheyenne, American, and Mexican elites.” With the arrival of formal American institutions, writes Hyde, racism began to take hold; as she concludes, after 1860, “[i]deas about race and how it described people and circumscribed behavior remained very shifty but soon had the power of the state to give them shape.” The shape they took was that of Jim Crow, and soon, those old kinship and friendship ties gave way to a different set of laws.

With a vast dramatis personae and stage, Hyde’s book sheds considerable light on the 19th-century development of the nation. Highly recommended.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-222515-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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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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