A welcome contribution to the history of America before the War of Independence, joining such fine recent books as Fred...

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THE SCRATCH OF A PEN

1763 AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF NORTH AMERICA

Lucid, brief survey of the aftereffects of the French and Indian War in America.

As Calloway (History/Dartmouth; One Vast Winter Count, 2003, etc.) writes, the Seven Years War lasted nine years in America, and it had the result of ending the half-century-long competition between France and Britain for control of Canada and the trans-Appalachian West. Britain fared badly at the beginning of the war, but its fate turned for the better with William Pitt’s becoming de facto prime minister. Pitt articulated a simple strategy to “reduce France from an imperial power to a continental power by stripping away its colonies.” In doing so, the British suffered great losses at the hands of Captain Donald Campbell, a born leader who helped suppress Pontiac’s War, which broke out soon after the Europeans made peace, and as the result of diseases, brought back from fighting French and Spanish forces in the tropics, that destroyed whole units; of more than 2,000 Highlanders who served in the Caribbean, Calloway writes, “only 245 remained fit for active duty in late August 1763.” The unintended consequences of British victory were many. For one, Calloway observes, with the removal of the French threat on the frontier, American colonists spilled over the mountains to claim the fertile lands of Ohio and Kentucky, which, of course, were already occupied. Much bloodshed ensued as Indians fought settlers, who had come to believe that the British forces were actually protecting their enemies. Though weakened, the British formed a standing army of 10,000 troops in North America, which the colonists saw as a police force arrayed against them—a perception that helped touch off revolution a decade later. Calloway concludes: “Peace brought little peace and much turmoil to North America.”

A welcome contribution to the history of America before the War of Independence, joining such fine recent books as Fred Anderson’s The War That Made America (2005).

Pub Date: April 29, 2006

ISBN: 0-19-530071-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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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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