A distinctively drawn time capsule from a definitive epoch.

ONE SUMMER

AMERICA, 1927

A popular chronicler of life and lore vividly charts a particularly pivotal season in American history.

Bryson (At Home: A Short History of Private Life, 2010, etc.) reanimates the events and principal players across five key months in 1927. He establishes an early-20th-century, trial-and-error chronology of aviation evolution cresting with Charles Lindbergh, a lean man with a dream, natural-born skills and the unparalleled motivation to design an aircraft capable of traversing the Atlantic. Braided into Lindbergh’s saga are profiles of cultural icons like ambitious “colossus” Herbert Hoover, famed gangster Al Capone, and baseball players Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, whose domination of America’s “National Game” captured the country’s attention. Recounted with brio and diligent detailing yet perhaps lacking the author’s better-known witty dynamism, Bryson honorably captures the spirit of the era, a golden age of newspapers, skyscrapers, patriotism, Broadway plays and baseball. The author enthusiastically draws on the heroic lives of tight-lipped President Calvin Coolidge and boxing great Jack Dempsey and artfully interweaves into Lindbergh’s meteoric rise the pitfalls of Prohibition, the splendor of Henry Ford’s Model T (and the horrors of constructing “Fordlandia” in the Amazon rain forest), the demise of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, and a noteworthy comparison between popular long-standing authors Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Collectively, what Bryson offers is a creatively written regeneration of historical facts; the revelations, while few, appear in the form of eccentric personal factoids (i.e., Coolidge liked his head rubbed with Vaseline, Grey was excessively libidinous) demarcating that scrutinized summer of dreamers and innovators. While he may be an expatriate residing in England, Bryson’s American pride saturates this rewarding book.

A distinctively drawn time capsule from a definitive epoch.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7679-1940-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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