This monumental history brings to life the political leaders swept up in the slavery battle.



This second installment of an American history series focuses on the causes of the Civil War.

Fraser’s sequel to The Emergence of One American Nation (2016) explores two views of the United States: one based on traditional racial or ethnic views, the other on ideals of equality of all humans and their attendant, inalienable rights. One of the main factors the author highlights as leading eventually to the Civil War is that the nation’s creators essentially kicked the can down the road: “The founders left behind the twin problems of slavery and federalism, which were often two sides of the same coin, and they continue to bedevil their progeny.” Throughout this well-researched volume, Fraser elaborates on the signposts on the road to war. First was Thomas Jefferson’s westward-looking “Empire of Liberty” approach and the question of whether slavery would be allowed in America’s new lands. Then there was the ascent of Andrew Jackson, champion of racist “ethnonationalism.” Next came the rise of the abolitionists. The deal breaker was the election of Abraham Lincoln, an advocate of restricting slavery, as president in 1860. The ultimate result was the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in 1861. Fraser’s massive work proves Santayana’s theory that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. The author deftly shows that, even from this nation’s earliest days, there were those who were concerned only with the prosperity of themselves and their families and others who thought it was morally proper to help those who were less fortunate. So what’s happening in the U.S. today isn’t something that’s new and different. These stances recur again and again throughout this engrossing tome (and will likely appear in Fraser’s future volumes as well). The author also paints vibrant portraits of the key players and others, such as Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and Stephen Douglas, by using the words of these figures and their biographers. Fraser reveals the philosophical struggles of those in the rooms where crucial decisions were made. He succeeds in putting human faces on what could be dry, drab history.

This monumental history brings to life the political leaders swept up in the slavery battle.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9970805-2-0

Page Count: 664

Publisher: Fraser & Associates

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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