A fascinating account of a resilient culture that has survived despite oppression.




In a follow-up to her prize-winning study, Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families: 1900-1940 (2000), Child (American Studies/Univ. of Minnesota) chronicles the “history of Ojibwe community life in the Great Lakes,” with special emphasis on the role of women.

As a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation, the author has an intimate connection to her subject. Beginning in the 1830s, with the U.S. government’s policy of forced relocation of Native Americans to reservations, Child chronicles the destruction of their way of life, which had been based on the cultivation of wild rice, traditionally woman's work, and hunting, which was done by men and boys. When the Ojibwe were forcibly removed from their homes and land in Michigan and Wisconsin to a reservation in the territory of Minnesota, their standard of living was reduced to bare subsistence. Forced to depend on food shipments and a meager annuity from the government, their population was decimated by starvation and disease. Remarkably, they preserved the core of their cultural beliefs, and traditional spiritual values survived despite the pressures and hardships of their new circumstances. The author writes of the unsuccessful but relentless drive of the institutions of the dominant American population to impose its core values, such as the inferior position of women in society and the replacement of traditional religious practices with Christianity. In some ways, the situation of the Ojibwe improved during the New Deal when the policy of forced assimilation ended. Poverty-relief programs run by New Deal agencies offered new employment opportunities, and the Ojibwe received funding to farm wild rice using modern methods. During World War II, Indian men were subject to the draft while women worked in defense plants. Today the vast majority live in cities while maintaining ties to the reservation and their traditional way of life.

A fascinating account of a resilient culture that has survived despite oppression.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02324-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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

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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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