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GRANT AND SHERMAN

THE FRIENDSHIP THAT WON THE CIVIL WAR

A worthy contribution to the Civil War literature.

A well-crafted study of “two failed men with great potential” without whom the Civil War might have ended differently.

Flood (Hitler, 1989) opens with a dispiriting account of Ulysses S. Grant, the Mexican War hero and former Army captain who, in 1860 at the age of 38, found himself a clerk in a leather-goods store in northwestern Illinois; it would take a cataclysmic war for him to have a chance to redeem himself. As for Sherman, the beginning of the conflict found him heading a military school in Louisiana; after fighting at Bull Run, he was assigned to head a force on the Kentucky-Tennessee frontier, where he seems to have struggled with a few personal demons that for a time debilitated him. Sherman was relieved of command, the local papers reporting that he was insane; later, thanks to the efforts of Gen. Henry Halleck, Sherman was rehabilitated and eventually allowed to raise a division of his own. Assigned to the western campaign under Grant, Sherman got his first taste of his commander’s ways at Shiloh, where Sherman was prepared to counsel retreat but held himself from doing so when Grant replied to his remark, “We’ve had the devil’s own day of it, haven’t we,” with, “Yes. . . . Lick ’em tomorrow, though.” What was to have been Beauregard’s victory turned out to be a great Southern defeat, and the beginning of the end for the South. Flood’s overarching theme of Grant and Sherman’s friendship, born in fire, is sometimes swept under by a surfeit of Big Picture historical detail, but in those instances, the book becomes a careful survey of the Civil War in the West. Of interest to students of early modern warfare, in particular, is Flood’s account of how Sherman, always in close contact with Grant, conducted his scorched-earth campaigns in Georgia and South Carolina—and how both generals detested the press, a theme that resounds in our own time.

A worthy contribution to the Civil War literature.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-16600-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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NIGHT

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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