In a perceptive look at the nation's most distinctive region, Grantham (History/Vanderbilt Univ.) examines the relationship between the South and the rest of the United States during the 20th century. He delineates this relationship in terms of several major themes, exploring the modern history of sectional conflict, the many areas of compromise among the regions, cultural convergence between the South and other areas of the country (with the consequent blurring of southern culture's special features), and the persistence, nonetheless, of southern distinctiveness in the nation's consciousness. Conflict was reflected both in the mutually unflattering perceptions and attitudes of Southerners and Northerners and in substantive differences between the regions on party alignment, civil rights, Prohibition, and federal regulation of utilities, tariffs, and banks. Although it often disagreed with the Northeast, Midwest, and West on these and other issues, the South in Grantham's view pervasively influenced American politics and society as a whole in many ways. Prior to WW II and the civil rights movement, the Democratic party was controlled by its southern wing, and southern Democrats, from Richard B. Russell to Huey Long, were a powerful force in Congress, one with which successive presidents had to reckon. In more recent years conservative southern factions have demonstrated similar influence in the Republican party. With what Grantham calls the ``Second Reconstruction'' of the 1960s and with the emergence of the Sunbelt South, the region has lost its traditional hallmark of backwardness, developing an increasingly urbanized economy and becoming in many ways more prosperous and progressive than the decaying, racially polarized North. Nonetheless, Grantham argues, the South retains some of its special cultural features, including a fervent religiosity, a ``subculture of violence,'' and a profusion of literary talent, from Barry Hannah to Bobbie Ann Mason. A rich, sympathetic, warts-and-all portrait of the South.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-016773-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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