Though much of this history is well-documented in the scholarly literature, it’s undeniably useful to have it in a single...



A long but readable history of the Spanish presence in North America from the time of the first European arrival to our own era.

What does it mean to be Hispanic? Is one Hispanic if one does not speak Spanish or Portuguese, or does ethnicity extend beyond the borders of language? So Gibson (Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day, 2014) wonders at the opening of her synoptic history of the Spanish in North America. Much of that history has not figured in textbooks until recent times, since, as the author observes, Americanness was largely equated with northwestern European ancestry. Yet that Spanish presence is everywhere. Gibson’s first extended look into that history begins at Parris Island, South Carolina, best known as a Marine Corps training center but also the site where Spain and France contended to establish outposts of empire. The author’s account includes well-known historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Bartolomé de Las Casas, the latter a cleric who decried violence against the Indigenous people of Mexico and inadvertently helped promote the “Black Legend” of Spanish avarice and tyranny. Refreshingly, however, Gibson also embraces lesser-known figures such as the French cartographer Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, whose engravings introduced European readers to scenes of Native American life, and Po’pay, the organizer of a revolt of Pueblo Indians against the Spanish in New Mexico in 1680. Interestingly, as Gibson notes, Po’pay is now one of the two people from New Mexico’s history depicted in the hall of statues in the U.S. Capitol, while controversy has arisen around one of California’s representatives, the missionary Junipero Serra, who has since been implicated in violence against his native charges. Gibson soundly concludes that the history of the Spanish “is central to how the United States has developed and will continue to develop,” lending further utility to her work.

Though much of this history is well-documented in the scholarly literature, it’s undeniably useful to have it in a single survey volume for general readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2702-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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