A groundbreaking history that will no doubt contribute to a reappraisal of some deep-rooted founding myths.




An eye-opening examination of how America's colonial-era colleges were rooted in slave economies and “stood beside church and state as the third pillar of a civilization built on bondage.”

Wilder (History/MIT; In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City, 2002, etc.) establishes the interrelationship between slave-cultivated plantations and the academic institutions that lived off the rents gathered through endowments, leases, mortgage debts and other instruments of feudal-style bondage. At first, land holdings were acquired through conquest of native populations, followed by successive phases of clearance and resettlement. “The Indians-for-African trade reduced the risk of enslaved Indians fleeing to their own lands or inciting conflicts,” writes Wilder, “and brought a population of African slaves who lacked knowledge of the local geography and languages but possessed important agricultural skills, particularly in rice production.” The slave trade developed in complexity as it grew in scale. Universities and colleges not only required their own endowments of land as sources of income and supplies, but also served to educate the leaders and administrators of the colonial settlements, who often became apologists for slavery. Wilder provides an excellent exploration of the role of the College of New Jersey and the Rev. John Witherspoon in the education of the leaders (James Madison and Patrick Henry, among many others) and their successors (John Marshall and James Monroe), who formulated the Indian Removal Act of 1830. His detailed elaboration of how Northern colleges spread the slave system into colonies like South Carolina and Georgia is equally thorough, and he also documents how race science took root in American academia.

A groundbreaking history that will no doubt contribute to a reappraisal of some deep-rooted founding myths.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59691-681-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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