An important—even necessary—addition to the groaning shelves of Civil War volumes.




Before and during the Civil War, both North and South lobbied hard in key European capitals to convince officials and the general population of the justness of their causes.

Impressively, Doyle (History/Univ. of South Carolina; Secession as an International Phenomenon: From America’s Civil War to Contemporary Separatist Movements, 2010) provides some novel insights about this most chronicled of conflicts. Although he alludes periodically to the military campaigns—from Bull Run to Appomattox—he uses them principally as reference points, signposts on his journey through the complex and fierce diplomatic efforts underway in England, France, Italy and the Vatican. Many Europeans, especially those with republican sympathies, could not understand why Abraham Lincoln, early in the war, refused to declare the North’s effort as a war on slavery; Southern diplomats sought to downplay the slavery issue for their own reasons and focused on the tyranny of the North and on the Southern desire for independence. The South desperately sought political recognition from European powers and hoped for military and financial aid as well. They found precious little, and as the war wound down, the European powers backed off (some had made renewed efforts to re-establish themselves in the Western Hemisphere—France in Mexico, for example), especially when the South remained intransigent about slavery. Doyle brings onto the stage a number of figures unfamiliar to all but scholars of the Civil War—envoys and diplomats, some of whom surreptitiously sought to enlist the participation of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was virulently opposed to slavery and who toyed somewhat with the offers to lead the Union Army. Lincoln’s eloquent oratory was among the most powerful of the Union’s weapons abroad, and Doyle ably conveys the widespread, genuine grief in Europe when news of his assassination arrived.

An important—even necessary—addition to the groaning shelves of Civil War volumes.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0465029679

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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