A valuable historical record, but transcribed interviews are often a tough slog, so many readers will prefer to wait for...

EDWARD M. KENNEDY

AN ORAL HISTORY

The latest in the publisher’s oral history project: Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009).

Over the course of these dense 500 pages, we learn that Kennedy was a complex personality who became an effective lawmaker and one of the last eminent representatives of a now-quiescent political philosophy: liberalism. Editor Perry (Presidential Studies/Univ. of Virginia; Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch, 2013, etc.), an authority on the Kennedy family, assembles a rich mélange that displays her subject’s “multifaceted personality—marked by an infectious joie de vivre, a profound humanity, and, sadly, feet of clay.” A mediocre student, Kennedy preferred football to studying at Harvard. Even before graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law (Harvard’s rejected him), he managed brother John’s 1958 Senate re-election campaign, where his charm and energy served him well. After helping JFK’s 1960 presidential campaign, he coveted and easily won John’s vacant Senate seat in 1962. However, disasters dogged a long career: his brothers’ assassinations in 1963 and 1968, nearly fatal injuries in a 1964 air crash, his son’s leg amputation for cancer in 1973, and the still murky 1969 car accident that killed campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne and probably eliminated his chance of becoming president. By the 1970s, with Kennedy situated in a safe Senate seat, the book becomes a record of his political passions. Paying for his son’s expensive chemotherapy was easy, but he noticed other parents had mortgaged their houses. This began a lifetime fight for national health insurance, which joined campaigns for immigration reform, against discrimination in housing, and in favor of women’s rights and (ahead of his time) gay rights and gay marriage. His private life receives its due, but Kennedy has had a lifetime to formulate insightful explanations, so readers will learn little new.

A valuable historical record, but transcribed interviews are often a tough slog, so many readers will prefer to wait for historians to absorb and interpret the material.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-19-064484-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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