The world will little note nor long remember this poorly reasoned, quarrelsome little tract.




From Adams (Those Dirty Rotten Taxes, 1998), a selectively argued, sometimes absurd polemic against Abraham Lincoln and the Union.

Abraham Lincoln assumed in the Second Inaugural Address that his audience knew that slavery `was, somehow, the cause of the war.` Adams disagrees: brushing aside massive historical evidence to the contrary (including the observations of northern and southern contemporaries) and relying heavily on British rather than American writers about the war, Adams asserts that the slavery was a non-issue devised as a pretext to justify Lincoln's unconstitutional `assault` on the South. He argues instead, with extraordinarily slender evidence, that the preservation of taxes and revenues from the South were somehow the cause of the war. Validly, though not particularly controversially, Adams argues against the Lincoln administration's suspension of habeas corpus and its practice of suppressing dissent in the North, although he fails to discuss the Confederacy's attitudes toward internal political dissent. Less reasonably, Adams excoriates Lincoln for not observing constitutional niceties in 1861 with a hostile southern army nearby (arguing that Lincoln had no authority to do anything more than call Congress into session), and he appears to go well beyond historical evidence in attributing the entire war to northern contentiousness about the low southern tariff. Adams grounds his argument for the legitimacy of southern secession in the language of the Declaration of Independence, ignoring the fact that no southern state except Texas had ever been independent and that millions of slaves were not consulted in the southern ordinances of secession. Finally, he renders an absurd, quibbling attack on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: among other objections, he feels the American Revolution did not establish the US as a `new nation, conceived in liberty` and that US national existence and democracy were not at stake in the Civil War.

The world will little note nor long remember this poorly reasoned, quarrelsome little tract.

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8476-9722-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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