A solid account for the non-specialist audience.




A detailed history of the Civil War’s opening weeks, before the clash of armies began.

Third in a trilogy on the war’s first 100 days, this volume by Detzer (Emeritus, History/Conn. State Univ.) covers the period between Allegiance (2001) and Donnybrook (2004): “a critical time,” the author writes, “when America’s two sections stumbled noisily into war.” The primary focus is on Washington and its vicinity, although the author discusses events in Philadelphia, New York and other areas as they relate to the main story. A pressing issue after the firing on Fort Sumter was whether Maryland, a slave state, would remain in the Union or cast its lot with the Confederacy. Virginia’s decision to secede confronted Lincoln and Winfield Scott, the senior U.S. general, with the prospect of an enemy close enough to bombard the White House from its own territory. If secessionists prevailed in Maryland, the nation’s capital would find itself surrounded by hostile territory. When Federal troops from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were attacked by rioters while changing trains in Baltimore, Washington’s link to the rest of the Union appeared fragile. Detzer details the political forces at work on both sides, the logistical problems of raising armies in a nation with a tiny military establishment and Virginia’s early successes at the Harper’s Ferry arsenal and at Gosport, the key naval installation at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. He critically analyzes the persistent legend that Lee, then a mere colonel, was offered command of the Union forces before casting his lot with his native state. He examines the Confederate campaign to win recognition from England and France, on which the would-be nation pinned its hopes as much as on military action. He also draws effectively on contemporary documents, including personal diaries, to show the reaction of ordinary people to the previously unthinkable prospect of civil war.

A solid account for the non-specialist audience.

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-15-101158-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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...


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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