For many writers, trading in such detail might complicate the otherwise simple arguments. However, because Goldfield writes...



Not just a reappraisal of the Civil War, but an exemplary cultural study of 19th-century America.

Goldfield (History/Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte; Still Fighting the Civil War, 2002, etc.) does not necessarily set out to tell a new story—“in this book, the outcome of the conflict will be the same as it is in every other book on the war. That goes for the battles, too.” Instead, the author offers an intriguing new perspective on what he convincingly argues to be not only the defining event of 1800s America, but the defining event of our nation's entire political and cultural history. For Goldfield, evangelical politics drives nearly every facet of the historical machinations of the period. Throughout the narrative, evangelicalism informs the debates around abolition, the Antebellum cultural conflicts born of large-scale immigration, territorial expansion and the rural religious fervor that led to the first cannon blasts at Fort Sumter. The author’s examination of the intensity of individual religious thought and religiously informed social activity in the camps provides readers a new comprehension of this extraordinary war. Although Goldfield is not the first to consider religion as a leading element in the Civil War, he elevates its influence by exploring the permeation of nearly every facet of American cultural life by religious thought. His unrelenting attention to so many of America's early cultural crannies—literary, technological, even geographical—often overlooked by past histories creates an authoritative depth to his argument.

For many writers, trading in such detail might complicate the otherwise simple arguments. However, because Goldfield writes with such veteran grace, he effectively demonstrates the complexity of the Civil War, with divisions that still reverberate in our modern political discourse.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59691-702-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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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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