While the narrative is initially slow, military history lovers will appreciate Snow’s explanations of how battles are...

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1777

TIPPING POINT AT SARATOGA

A chronicle of 33 days in Saratoga, New York, in 1777 that turned the tide for the American Revolution.

Many books focusing on a single battle get bogged down in troop movements, rearrangements, and the positioning of multiple players. At first, this seems to be the case here, as archaeologist and ethnohistorian Snow (Archaeology of Native North America, 2009) explains the who’s who and what’s where of the battle(s) on the Hudson River. Thankfully, that is only the setup. As the action builds and the characters come into focus, readers will get caught up in their hopes and frustrations. Both sides had leaders who confused their staff, first ordering and then countermanding. Gen. John Burgoyne personified British hubris; he was sure they would whip the rebels and retire each night to a champagne dinner. Horatio Gates suffered from lack of support. Benedict Arnold, a loose cannon, was replaced, and John Stark’s militiamen’s terms of service were up, and they left. Snow compiles his meticulous military history from a wealth of information, including directives, letters, and private notes. The first battle, at Freeman’s Farm on Sept. 19, found both armies advancing and falling back 100 yards at a time, many times in and out. It was a technical victory for the British, as they still held their ground. However, the Americans had more troops—with more on the way—and they also had lethal riflemen whose marksmanship felled any who strayed too far from camp. After Freeman’s Farm, both sides delayed continuing the fight, Burgoyne in hopes of relief and the Americans facing the possibility of running out of ammunition. It would be Oct. 7 before the sides met again, by which time the Americans outnumbered and outgunned the British and had them surrounded.

While the narrative is initially slow, military history lovers will appreciate Snow’s explanations of how battles are fought, especially regarding supply lines, geography, and leading characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-061875-9

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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