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




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

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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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