A well-conceived challenge to the claim to historic legitimacy of today’s Tea Party demonstrators.

THE FREEDOMS WE LOST

CONSENT AND RESISTANCE IN REVOLUTIONARY AMERICA

While conservative demonstrators hearken back to the Boston Tea Party, Smith (Men and Women: A History of Costume, Gender, and Power, 1990, etc.), the curator of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, suggests that our revolutionary forebears had quite a different view of freedom.

The author explores how Americans, from the late 1760s to the 1780s, understood the freedoms they believed to have rightfully possessed as colonial British subjects. “When they renounced subjecthood to George III,” she writes, “many Americans understood themselves to remain subject to and members within a larger society.” The broad coalition that called itself Patriots was organized around a notion of the common good rather than the right to individual freedoms. They recognized themselves as “neighbors and brethren” and formed “a coalition that joined colonists across lines of region, belief, interest, and social class.” Despite the colonial restriction of the franchise, the accepted power of the common people to execute the laws established a realm of freedom. This encompassed the role of juries and spectators in determining the outcome of judicial decisions, refusal to collect unfair taxes and the right to demonstrate and protest. Smith establishes a crucial distinction between the modern conservative view—that government is best when it governs least—and the pre-Revolutionary belief that government should be held accountable for “its obligations to execute laws that protected lesser people from the excessive ambitions of the great or would-be-great.” During the Revolutionary War, scarcity and the establishment of a paper currency caused a severe inflation and price gouging, which was countered by “a mobilization on an unprecedented scale.” Committees frequently met at county courthouses to establish fair prices and provide supplies to the needy. While our notions of individual freedom have broadened and deepened since then, writes Smith, “Americans have lost…awareness of the breadth of the Revolutionaries’ eighteenth-century project, which asserted public power to counteract the coercions of the market."

A well-conceived challenge to the claim to historic legitimacy of today’s Tea Party demonstrators.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59448-180-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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