Provides thorough coverage of a deserving subject.




Passionate biography of a Founding Father whose legacy exists in the shadow of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, but who played an equally vital role in the creation of the United States.

Born in England, Robert Morris (1734–1806) moved to the American continent at a young age and used a small inheritance to become a wealthy merchant. Although not a revolutionary by disposition, the proud Philadelphian believed that the British crown had overstepped its power, and he became active in both the formation of individual state governments and pushed for the controversial notion of a federal entity that could raise its own money. As the Revolutionary War dragged on, George Washington and other generals could not adequately clothe, feed or pay their troops, who threatened mutiny. Using his contacts and knowledge developed as an import-export businessman, Morris dealt with emissaries from France and other foreign nations, as well as leaders in each of the original states, raising millions of dollars and procuring shipments of badly needed gunpowder as if by magic. Investigative journalist Rappleye (Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, 2006, etc.) demonstrates that behind the seeming magic, Morris labored mightily, sometimes at great cost to his beloved wife and their brood of children, as well as the near loss of his psychological equilibrium. In a nascent republic beset by political, geographical and personal rivalries, Morris became the object of suspicion by some, who accused him of enriching himself at the expense of the new nation. He worked hard for years to clear his name of those allegations and succeeded for the most part. However, his unwise land speculation after the war led to the loss of his fortune and time in jail before his death. In fluid prose, Rappleye ably resurrects an underrated contributor to the early American republic.

Provides thorough coverage of a deserving subject.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7091-2

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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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