A thoroughly researched book that will appeal mostly to a scholarly rather than general audience.

EVERYBODY OUGHT TO BE RICH

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN J. RASKOB, CAPITALIST

A comprehensive but unfortunately arid biography of John Jacob Raskob (1879–1950), whom Farber (History/Temple Univ.; The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism: A Short History, 2010, etc.) depicts as a progenitor of modern capitalism.

Solidly Catholic and small-town conservative, Raskob was as close to a Horatio Alger character as the Jazz Age might allow. He came to head first the DuPont chemical concern and then, in an early exercise in cross-fertilization (or at least cross-corporatization), General Motors. As Farber writes, he was a pioneer of the hostile takeover, the credit market and the application of big money to the political process. Moreover, he was a kind of Napoleon Hill/Dale Carnegie popularizer of business and money who urged ordinary Americans to invest in the stock market and thereby grow rich—advice that, fortunately, most Americans ignored, given that the crash and the Great Depression were just around the corner. That loss of credibility and the decline of the supermoneyed class in the age of the New Deal—and here Farber’s discussion makes the book timely—sent Raskob’s reputation into eclipse in his own time (though Sonora, Texas, is nowhere as bad as Farber makes it out to be). He has since been largely forgotten. Granted that Raskob did not have the worldly appetites or scandal-attracting abilities of fellow Catholic conservative Joseph Kennedy, this life seems a touch dutiful, carrying its subject’s stolid, businesslike manner into its pages. Still, no other book covers the same ground—a curious lacuna, given Raskob’s undeniable importance in economic history.

A thoroughly researched book that will appeal mostly to a scholarly rather than general audience.

Pub Date: May 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-19-973457-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more