Chandler sets out to prove that the mysterious death in 1809 of explorer Meriwether Lewis was a murder and that the plot was masterminded by an ally of former president Thomas Jefferson and sanctioned by Jefferson himself. The death of Lewis—explorer with William Clark, protÇgÇ of Jefferson, and governor of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory- -caused surprisingly little scandal or inquiry, despite its strange circumstances. Having been summoned to Washington to explain his trading expenses, Lewis died of gunshot wounds in an isolated frontier inn along his curiously inconvenient overland route. A hurried verdict of suicide came primarily from John Neelly, the local Indian Bureau liaison, and Jefferson later supported this, even insinuating drug or alcohol addiction. Local rumor said Lewis was murdered, either by Indians or frontier bandits, and later historians have suspected Neelly and Lewis's servant. Chandler's conspiracy theory fingers the disreputable Revolutionary War general James Wilkinson, later in his career a paid Spanish agent and a conspirator in Aaron Burr's planned invasion of Mexico. Wilkinson counted Jefferson as a longtime ally, particularly after double-crossing Burr and testifying at the infamous treason trial, but in 1809 a New Orleans army base scandal threatened to ruin him and possibly embarrass Jefferson. Chandler suggests that since Lewis could have damaged Wilkinson in Washington, Wilkinson sent his agent Neelly to intercept and murder Lewis. Pulitzer Prize- winner Chandler (The Binghams of Louisville, 1988) lays out the multifarious agendas of France, Spain, and the United States—and the schemes of their agents and adventurers—in his effort to uncover links between Wilkinson and the prime suspects in Lewis's death. Despite Chandler's bias against Jefferson, his role in a possible cover-up, much less a conspiracy, remains questionable. Chandler fits persuasive, albeit circumstantial, evidence into the puzzle of Lewis's death, situating it in the country's turbulent early era, but ultimately does not fill all the gaps and unknowns. (20 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-12225-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1994

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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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