Gunslinging meets typesetting in this sporadically interesting history of frontier reporting. Dary (Seeking Pleasure in the Old West, 1995), head of the School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, considers the role of newspapers in the framing of Western history—and Western myths. He notes that most frontier newspapers were organs of the Democratic Party, advancing that organization's political aims; he also writes that in some instances papers ``sold their editorial opinions to the highest bidder,'' whereas many others, more honestly, got by taking on job printing on the side. For all that, Dary has a tendency to lionize frontier editors as ``masters of vigorous English'' who ``knew or concocted virile expressions,'' rather than expose them as servants of the political machine. Dary's narrative skips about in time and theme and is often repetitious. The author also prefers anecdote to analysis, so that his book is really a catalog of stories about newspapers and newspapermen—and, in a late chapter, a few newspaperwomen—and not a meaningful history of Old West journalism as such. Some of those stories do much to enliven the book, however, including one involving an exchange of editorials between rival paper owners in Doniphan County, Kansas; one calls the other a ``skunk,'' and the latter replies with an astonishing string of invective, calling his foe a ``crane-necked, blobber-lipped, squeaky-voiced, empty-headed, snaggle-toothed, filthy-mouthed, box-ankled, pigeon-toed, red-footed . . . Black Republican.'' Dary also profiles journalistic heroes like E.W. Howe, the editor of a free daily paper in Atchison, Kansas, who wrote 40 items a day and whose work became nationally popular. Dary's book has its moments, but it doesn't quite make the price of admission.

Pub Date: March 12, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-44655-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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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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