Despite its flaws, the book tells a story of considerable importance to Medicine Liners, their far-flung descendants, and...

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THE MEDICINE LINE

LIFE AND DEATH ON A NORTH AMERICAN BORDERLAND

A comprehensive look at the volatile history of the border territory separating Montana and Canada.

NPR commentator LaDow’s debut explores in both chronological and human terms the shifting fortunes of this arid prairie region, beginning with the age of Manifest Destiny and the waning of the Indian Wars. She sees Sitting Bull’s 1881 surrender, following his victory over Custer and several years of refuge in Canada, as a metaphor for the transformations enacted by this harsh, vast land on the many ethnic and religious groups who settled there. LaDow explores in great detail the slow development over the 19th century of increasingly rowdy, centralized communities like Medicine Hat, Saskatchewan, and Chinook, Montana, paying attention to the human costs of competitiveness and bigotry and offering good depictions of many significant figures, such as incompetent Mounted Policeman Frank Dickens (son of Charles) and Louis Riel, leader of a rebellion by Canada’s Métis people. Throughout, the author is sensitive to the traumas endured by various native tribes, who saw their old ways of existence die along the Medicine Line. Her narrative has many powerful moments, as when we glimpse the ghost communities that dotted the landscape in the early 20th century after speculator James Hill’s artificially created “land rush” foundered due to repeated droughts and other natural catastrophes that caused the practitioners of “dry farming” to flee their homesteads in droves. Wallace Stegner, who was interviewed for this project, termed the Medicine Line region of his childhood “the capital of an unremembered past.” LaDow ably captures that past, limning the scope of the many changes and cultural conflicts that penetrated this stark region, even though her prose is often turgid and her points repetitive.

Despite its flaws, the book tells a story of considerable importance to Medicine Liners, their far-flung descendants, and students of the bitter culture clashes endemic during the era of western expansion.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-415-92764-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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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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