A sharply detailed, panoramic memoir of a ``red diaper'' baby and leftist activist who converted to political conservatism. Born in 1939, journalist and biographer Horowitz (The Fondas, 1992; with Peter Collier, The Roosevelts, 1994; etc.) here turns in a study of intellectual development in a troubled time. He writes lovingly, but with some exasperation, of having been brought up by two Communist Party minor operatives; of a father physically and emotionally scarred by his own impoverished childhood, blacklisted and forced to leave teaching in the 1950s; of a mother who was trained as a lawyer but worked as a typing instructor, fearful of competing for work during the Great Depression. Horowitz continued their revolutionary tradition through the '60s and '70s, finally rejecting the left during the beleaguered Carter presidency. Along the way he recounts his years as an antiwar-movement leader and journalist (he was an editor at Ramparts magazine) and as an active sympathizer of the Black Panthers, with whom he later broke. Horowitz traces his disaffection to multiple causes, including the lunatic acts of violent groups like the Weather Underground and the lunatic rhetoric of the late-era Huey Newton, who called for the extermination of the ``fascist insects'' who stood in his way. He protests, however, that he did not, as one writer has charged, ``escape into conservatism,'' and that, like Norman Podhoretz, he had to accept the label ``neoconservative'' because his preferred term, ``liberal,'' had been coopted by the left. Horowitz is usually generous in his description of peers in the movement, although he clearly dislikes Tom Hayden and Todd Gitlin, and he is more likely to engage in self-criticism than to deride those who, in his view, have not yet seen the light. Regardless of one's opinion on his present politics, Horowitz's searching reminiscences are a valuable contribution to the literature of dissent. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-82793-X

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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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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