An illuminating history of a golden era in a city desperately seeking to reclaim the glory.

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ONCE IN A GREAT CITY

A DETROIT STORY

Hot times in a raucous city.

Biographer and Washington Post associate editor Maraniss (Barack Obama: The Story, 2013, etc.) spent only his first six and a half years in Detroit, so he was surprised when he “choked up” after seeing a car commercial extolling the Motor City. That affection inspired this fast-paced, sprawling, copiously detailed look at 18 months—from 1962 to 1964—in the city’s past. During that time, big things happened in Detroit. Motown burst onto the music scene after the Motortown Revue left the city on a nationwide tour. Ford developed a new car, kept secret except from the prestigious J. Walter Thompson advertising agency; unveiled at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, the Mustang became an instant, bestselling hit. Detroit fought fiercely for the 1968 Olympics, but despite support from native son Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee, Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, and Governor George Romney, Detroit lost to Mexico City. Detroit was embroiled in the civil rights movement, as well, with Cavanagh and union head Walter Reuther among many leaders taking a strong stand for racial equality. Reuther even rounded up money to bail out demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, and he never wavered in his commitment to freedom and justice. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an early version of his “I have a dream” speech at the city’s much-publicized Walk to Freedom, in which Reuther, Cavanagh, and 100,000 others marched; it was, said one participant, “a model of peaceful protest and racial cooperation” during a time of national unrest. Although overstuffed with facts (for example, that Cavanagh “kept four extra suits, thirteen striped ties,” and abundant shirts in his office for a quick change), and sometimes breaching the city’s boundaries to become a history of the whole country, Maraniss’ brawny narrative evokes a city still “vibrantly alive” and striving for a renaissance.

An illuminating history of a golden era in a city desperately seeking to reclaim the glory.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4838-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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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

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