Of interest to students of the Civil War, and certain to provoke discussion in the professional journals.



There was not one civil war between 1861 and 1865 but many—so many that if the South were to rise again, it would do so on only one leg.

“Secession,” writes Williams (History/Valdosta State Univ.; A People’s History of the Civil War, 2005, etc.), “divided families all across the slave states. It pitted fathers against sons, siblings against each other, and even wives against husbands.” It divided communities as well. Whole counties in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Virginia refused to leave the Union and seceded from the secession; homegrown unionist militias fought guerrilla wars against the Confederacy throughout the South; and as much as a quarter of the Union Army were Southern boys. Small wonder that one Atlanta newspaper opined early in the war, “If we are defeated, it will be by the people at home.” As the war went on, the tide of sentiment turned against rebellion, as civilians starved and farmers had their crops and livestock requisitioned out from under them. By Williams’s Marxist-tinged account, the Confederacy brought this upon itself, for it was a stringently class-conscious society organized for the economic and political benefit of the rich and visibly against the poor. The poor suffered disproportionately, but they did not rise up en masse, even though plenty of those poor folk worked quietly against the government. And not just the poor, as Williams observes. African-Americans resisted the Confederacy, too. Similarly, many Native Americans within the bounds of the South packed up and moved rather than take up arms against the Union; the band led by Opothleyahola, a Creek chief, petitioned Lincoln to protect them and, upon receiving no reply, relocated to Kansas, attacked by pro-Southern Indians as they traveled. These acts of struggle within the Civil War are too little documented within standard textbooks, and Williams does a good job with this book, though some historians may question his close focus on class analysis.

Of interest to students of the Civil War, and certain to provoke discussion in the professional journals.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59558-108-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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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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