A vivid re-creation of an often overlooked episode in the Indian Wars. The Modoc War, fought in 186972, has largely been regarded as a sideshow in light of other, more famous campaigns, such as those against Crazy Horse and Cochise. Berkeley scholar Quinn, the author of several volumes of history (A New World, 1994, etc.), makes a solid case for why the war—really a series of skirmishes, some of them terribly bloody, on the Oregon-California border—should have a more central place in our historical canon. Noting that not all Modocs supported war leader Captain Jack and that not all white residents of the region supported the federal action against his band of warriors, Quinn proposes that the campaign be viewed not as another instance of ethnic-based genocide but as ``fundamentally a war between nations, the one very large, the other very small.'' In this war, the small nation held off the large one rather well, employing guerrilla tactics and fighting in a difficult landscape of lava beds and rough mountains, which led a federal officer to remark, ``I do not believe that a hundred thousand men in a hundred thousand years could construct such fortifications'' as the natural features in which the Modocs took refuge. As a result, the Americans sustained heavy losses and committed horrible atrocities in reprisal; the army also executed Captain Jack and his followers soon after their eventual surrender. Quinn's narrative is fluent, and at times even a little glib. Professional historians will not much like his generous use of invented dialogue, which will prevent the book from being taken as a serious study of these tragic events, but it is clear that the author has done his homework. As an introduction to the Modoc people and its unfortunate encounter with the American nation, Quinn's book serves well. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 25, 1997

ISBN: 0-571-19903-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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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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