A welcome amplification of the American story.

WEST OF THE REVOLUTION

AN UNCOMMON HISTORY OF 1776

A multilayered American history of “formative events…occurring not just along the Eastern Seaboard but across all of North America.”

The year 1776 had enormous repercussions in the West, opening up the land to the exploring Spaniards and rapacious Russians and decimating the Native Americans as well as significant native fauna like otters and beavers. Saunt (American History/Univ. of Georgia; Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family, 2005, etc.) explores what the rest of the continent was up to at the same time that George Washington was forming his Continental Army and Patrick Henry was disclaiming on liberty or death—namely, a rush for land and furs and the pushing out of the Indians in the way. Some of the alarming events included the purchase by speculator Richard Henderson of a whopping 22 million acres of land in what is now Kentucky and Tennessee from the Cherokee leaders for a pittance in a naked grab after British collapse; Capt. Ivan Solovyev and his band of Siberian trappers wreaking havoc on the native Aleuts; and the Spaniards, fearing Russian incursions in California, inciting the displeasure of the native Kumeyaays in the process, while conquistador Juan Bautista de Anza and his exploring party were making first contact with the Costanoan-speaking Indians in the San Francisco Bay. The division of the continent in two along the Mississippi River at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War (1763) allowed some tribes to take advantage of increased trade, while most others straddling the divide were crushed. Saunt ably juggles myriad events—the Hudson Bay Company causing the near extinction of many species of animal, the Lakotas’ discovery of the fertile Black Hills—throughout his compelling narrative.

A welcome amplification of the American story.

Pub Date: June 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-24020-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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