DeRose condenses half a century’s worth of political history into an informative compendium of the political struggles...

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THE PRESIDENTS' WAR

SIX AMERICAN PRESIDENTS AND THE CIVIL WAR THAT DIVIDED THEM

A history of the Civil War as told through the six American presidents that experienced it firsthand.

Only once have five former presidents been alive to look upon their successor. When Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861, these men were John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. DeRose (Law/Arizona Summit Law School; Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election that Saved a Nation, 2011, etc.) carefully examines each president’s role in the buildup to the Civil War and their respective differences in their approaches to the problem of slavery and secession. Precipitated by the tariffs of 1828 and 1832, the nullification crisis of 1832 proved an early test of the Union’s resolve and willingness to assert its sovereignty. South Carolina declared both tariff bills null and void and would no longer remit federal duties. President Andrew Jackson, hardly one to recoil from this type of brazen insubordination, demanded local allies collect the duty by any means necessary and issued a statement asserting the power of the Union over the right of a state to annul federal law or secede. Ultimately, the nullification crisis was resolved through political compromise, but the pivotal issue of secession proved to have roots far deeper than many could have foreseen. Foreshadowing the Civil War nearly 40 years later, this crisis would shape the way future presidents forged their opinions on slavery and states’ rights. While discussing Jackson and Lincoln, DeRose smartly focuses his attention on a few of the lesser-known, but not less valuable presidents. The author’s narrative portraits of each president’s often precarious relationship to the Union reveals eye-opening facts that are otherwise overlooked—e.g., John Tyler was the only president to die an enemy of his country.

DeRose condenses half a century’s worth of political history into an informative compendium of the political struggles leading to the Civil War.

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7627-9664-9

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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