A well-written, welcome work of history and advocacy.



A stampeding, crusading history of horses in America during the last half-millennium.

Wild horses are a problem for range-management types and government officials, especially in places where there seem to be as many horses as humans—Wyoming, South Dakota and, notably, Nevada. Thus it is that those mustangs are rounded up and, from time to time, slaughtered, a practice that Stillman (Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines, and the Mojave, 2001) rightly condemns. Her book offers a spirited defense of the wild horse, as well as a rousing, sweeping account of the horse from the arrival of the conquistadors, who would not have been able to subdue North America without it, even as the unconquered peoples of the plains learned how to tame horses, in nature “animals of prey . . . [that] like the wide open.” More than half of the Spanish mesteños, Stillman notes, died on the crossing from Europe; enough of them survived, though, to give Hernán Cortés and his fellow soldiers the aspect of gods, or so the Aztecs thought. Lacking some of their old natural enemies, the horses multiplied and took up life in the wild. Stillman writes that in colonial Los Angeles so many of them came to the edge of town, browsed the forage and “spirited the gentled horses away” that drovers were forced to take after them with lances and herd them over cliffs into the ocean. The author relates the careers of famed horses such as Comanche, hailed as the lone survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn, and Fritz, without whom “Hollywood would have stalled at Bronco Billy, the cowboy who couldn’t ride and didn’t even have his own horse.” Stillman sometimes inclines into the mystical, but horses are, after all, inspiring creatures, so she is to be forgiven the occasional reverie—though her celebratory mood darkens, understandably, as she approaches modern times and the tenderfoot bureaucrats who govern them.

A well-written, welcome work of history and advocacy.

Pub Date: June 9, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-618-45445-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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