Academic in tone, though full of good dish about the likes of Lippman and the Alsops. Of much interest to students of...




A thoughtful if sometimes ponderous history of the capital’s newshounds from the New Deal to the present.

A journalist or two probably followed Abe Lincoln around, and we know that ink-stained wretches dogged Jefferson and Adams. But, US Senate associate historian Ritchie writes, the numbers have changed: “More Washingtonians hold press passes than hold office.” Given such odds, it’s amazing that anyone can keep a secret inside the Beltway, but secrets are kept all the same—in part, one might infer, because even if Washington journalists tend to be liberal, they are also part of a culture that serves them very well, meaning, as Russell Baker observed, “They are, in the pure sense of the word, extremely conservative.” Respect for and even deference to authority have never been much of a problem, then, even when politicians do not merit such consideration; as Ritchie notes, the collective DC press gave Joe McCarthy a pass for years, and McCarthy obliged by presenting reporters with cases of Wisconsin beer and wheels of Wisconsin cheese until finally playing out his Red Scare card. Early newsman Arthur Krock, the New York Times’s man at the White House, managed to tick off FDR so much that the president fed information to anyone but him. Krock got his revenge by being appointed DC bureau chief and pestering FDR for the remainder of his years in office, but by the time the country got around to Nixon, Woodward and Bernstein had to pound on a lot of desks to get their paper to pay attention to the misdoings on Pennsylvania Avenue. Today, Ritchie suggests, journalists still tend to go easy on politicians. And if in the wake of 9/11, Washington’s journalists take themselves more seriously and push for harder information, many still “discard some of their professional distance to rally around the flag and the president.”

Academic in tone, though full of good dish about the likes of Lippman and the Alsops. Of much interest to students of national politics and the media.

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-19-517861-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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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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