Revolutionary War fans will rejoice in this well-written work and hope that the author has more on the way.

THE WAR BEFORE INDEPENDENCE

1775-1776

Beck (Igniting the American Revolution: 1773-1775, 2015) continues his deeply detailed story of the American Revolution’s beginnings.

In this volume, the author focuses on the British occupation of Boston and the attempts by American forces to retake it. The first and most formidable problem was that the Colonies did not yet have an army of their own. The provincial armies and local militias were united only in their common cause, and localism doomed attempts to field a cohesive force. Men from different states would never recognize any superior but one of their own. The forces not only lacked unity; they also tended to go their own ways in battle. Disciplining troops was difficult, as all believed themselves equal; in the spirit of casting off George III’s sovereignty, soldiers rejected all authority. Even so, the author notes that the colonists did not initially intend to separate. They wished for liberty, not independence, but patriotism and a sense of duty were new ideas. It was the king’s attitude that drove them to it. Beginning with a few skirmishes and the Battle of Chelsea Creek, Beck leads up to the Battle of Bunker Hill. In the middle of the night, Americans built entrenchments out of range of bombardments from English ships. English Gen. Thomas Gage attempted to encircle them but failed. In the end, it was a bloody fight and a pyrrhic victory for him. The fall of Montreal and the siege of Quebec seem to be asides in this story until we see Col. Henry Knox bringing desperately needed artillery and cannon across frozen Lake Champlain and the Hudson. Though Beck only covers a short period, his excellent research brings to life the men who fought, providing readers with real, tangible heroes, not just hazy historic figures.

Revolutionary War fans will rejoice in this well-written work and hope that the author has more on the way.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3309-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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