NATURAL LIVES, MODERN TIMES

PEOPLE AND PLACES OF THE DELAWARE RIVER

From an editor at Audubon magazine, a lively natural and social history and tour of the banks of the Delaware. The Delaware River was first settled by whites in the 17th century, Stutz tells us, and—as the common border of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey—soon became the East's maritime, agricultural, and industrial heartland. From this beginning, Stutz moves to the annual mating of two million horseshoe crabs, who, throwing themselves onto the beaches of Delaware Bay, are eaten by half of the Western Hemisphere's population of turnstone birds making an annual stop from South America on their way to the Arctic. In finely turned chapters, Stutz goes on to relate the history of the local beaver trade (dating from Charles I's 1638 mandate that only beaver could be used for hats); runs a line of ``fykes'' (traps for snapping turtles), telling of the turtles' lives while the subsistence fishermen who are boating tell him of theirs; spends nights with trappers harvesting eels in a river weir, the eels migrating to the Sargasso Sea to breed (along with all other migratory eels in the world); and relates the family histories of the 19th-century industrialists whose shipyards, refineries, and chemical factories generated pollution that halved the fishery by 1900. Stutz lets the many people whose lives are intertwined with the river speak for themselves and of what has vanished, giving his story an engaging presence. He also covers bad news: the Delaware's role as the major shipping route of slaves for auction in Philadelphia; the annihilation by the commercial caviar industry of great schools of ten-foot sturgeon; and the depredations of the home-building rush in the Poconos. Piquant, and uncommonly eloquent. (Six maps—not seen.)

Pub Date: May 5, 1992

ISBN: 0-517-58225-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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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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