Much of this ground has otherwise been covered, and better, in Greil Marcus’ Invisible Republic (1997). Still, fans of 1960s...

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SMALL TOWN TALK

BOB DYLAN, THE BAND, VAN MORRISON, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX AND FRIENDS IN THE WILD YEARS OF WOODSTOCK

Veteran music writer Hoskyns (Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band, 2012, etc.) peels back the layers of a musical Shangri-La that has plenty of dark corners.

Woodstock, New York, has always seemed more a state of mind than an actual place, though an actual place it is—and, as the author writes early on, one well surrounded by a sense of reclusiveness and mystery, as if everyone there followed the Dylan-esque rule, “Don’t talk to anybody.” Much of Woodstock’s rise can be attributed to Dylan and his backup musicians, the ones who would become The Band and record some zeitgeist-shaping tunes at Big Pink. But more can be attributed to the much-despised music manager Albert Grossman (who “wasn’t a very nice man,” Mary Travers recalls, “but I loved him dearly”), who bought up a considerable chunk of the town with the proceeds of Dylan et al.’s artistry. In any event, as Hoskyns helpfully traces, Woodstock had been an art and music colony for generations. The best parts of this fluent narrative come when the author finds unusual intersections: a very young Patti Smith, for instance, hanging out with Todd Rundgren, himself engineering The Band’s most polished studio album, “Stage Fright.” The cast of characters is stellar, from Van Morrison, even more hermetic than Dylan, to the poet Ed Sanders, doomed blues rocker Janis Joplin, and hippie entrepreneur Michael Lang, and a 100 names between. There are a few clues (including chronological mismatches: Music from Big Pink is much closer to 50 than 30 years old now) to suggest that Hoskyns has bundled up old pieces and notes, but one can charitably surmise that this just means he’s been on the case for a long time.

Much of this ground has otherwise been covered, and better, in Greil Marcus’ Invisible Republic (1997). Still, fans of 1960s and ’70s rock and music history buffs will find this a pleasure.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-306-82320-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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