A detailed and unnecessary look at a failed assassination. Picchi, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, believes there is mystery surrounding Giuseppe Zangara’s attempt to shoot Franklin Roosevelt shortly before his inauguration in 1932, but this premise seems overdrawn. The facts are straightforward. Zangara, an Italian immigrant, went to a Miami event at which Roosevelt was scheduled to appear and fired five rounds in an attempt to kill the president-elect. Zangara’s short stature prevented a clear view of or shot at Roosevelt, leaving the intended victim unharmed but several bystanders injured. The most critical wound was suffered by Anton Cermak, mayor of Chicago, who eventually died. Zangara’s arrest, initial trial and conviction for assault, subsequent trial and conviction for murder after Cermak’s death, and finally his execution, all took place in the amazingly short time of five weeks. Everyone seemed intent on swift justice, including not only the court-assigned defense lawyers intent on doing the prosecution’s job, but even Zangara himself. Prejudice against southern Europeans was clearly present, Zangara’s sanity was too easily affirmed, medical incompetence probably caused Cermak’s death, and the judicial proceedings were a mockery given the significance of the case. While there are grounds to give Zangara “his day in court” then, it is not clear what purpose it serves. Zangara’s lack of remorse may have been unsettling and his ill-formed personal political philosophy, suggesting that leaders of all countries should be shot, unsatisfying as a motive. However, Picchi’s account leaves little room to doubt that this is genuinely what Zangara believed, and that if alive today he would welcome an opportunity to shoot the president. Although inexplicable in rational terms, this hardly constitutes a reason to reexamine the case, for in the end Zangara’s behavior simply falls outside the realm of rationality and there is little more to be said. An interesting historical footnote that can be bypassed without severe costs. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-89733-443-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Academy Chicago

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet