An insider’s knowing and engaging portrait, not to be found in any guidebook. (16-page photo insert, not seen)

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THE WASHINGTON CENTURY

THREE FAMILIES AND THE SHAPING OF THE NATION’S CAPITAL

Washington hand Solomon (Where They Ain’t, 1999) astutely tracks three families of American aristocrats who wielded power inside the Beltway through the 20th century.

The mores of the managers and movers, the privileged and the needy, the socialites, lawyers, lobbyists, developers, and politicos of Washington, DC, are distilled in the intertwined tales of the Jewish Cafritz family, the African-American Hobsons, and the Boggs clan, a set of southern politicians and lobbyists. Through the revolving doors of power passed these remarkable people, who could thrive nowhere better than in the District. Wealthy widow Gwen Cafritz, doyenne of Washington society and supporter of the arts, saw things differently than husband Morris or their three sons. Though they all were effective in the cause of civil rights, prickly and abrasive Julius Hobson Sr. made choices quite different from those of his only son or his two wives. After husband Hale’s untimely death, Lindy Boggs succeeded him in Congress; one of their children became the city’s leading lawyer-lobbyist, another became mayor of the borough of Princeton, and the third became Cokie Roberts. Spanning a century, the networked positions of influence occupied by these three families encompassed such diverse events as school integration, a gigantic corporate bailout, a riot, and the death of the Clinton health-care initiative, as well as cruel robberies and important garden parties. National Journal contributing editor Solomon examines it all: presidential administrations from Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, paladins of power from Perle Mesta to Marion Barry, and generations of civil servants who were not necessarily servile or even civil. He presents a solid social history of the nation’s capital, which seems to have become a bit less affable lately. The increasingly internecine story will no doubt continue.

An insider’s knowing and engaging portrait, not to be found in any guidebook. (16-page photo insert, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-621372-X

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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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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