A thoughtful analysis that will annoy and please readers on both sides of the aisle.

THE REAGAN ERA

A HISTORY OF THE 1980S

Rossinow (History/Metropolitan State Univ.; Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America, 2007, etc.) revisits the 1980s and finds things both to admire and disdain in the president, the culture and the rest of us.

In a work that will not completely please Ronald Reagan’s vast choruses of admirers and detractors, the author, who has written frequently about the choreography of history and politics, declares that he offers “a sober evaluation of Reagan and the era of American politics that he dominated.” But as the text unfolds, Rossinow’s disgust with the excesses of the period—the lies, the deceptions, the neglect of the helpless—grows ever more edged. After sketching Reagan’s rise, the author revisits many of the personalities and events whose names continue to evoke strongly partisan reactions 35 years later. Margaret Thatcher, cocaine and crack, “Just Say No,” David Stockman, Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Falklands, the PATCO strike, Ed Meese, the Beirut bombings, Bonfire of the Vanities, Ivan Boesky, Rock Hudson and AIDS, Bernhard Goetz, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Oliver North and Iran-Contra, Chernobyl, Michael Dukakis, Willie Horton—these and numerous others appear throughout. Rossinow is hardest on Reagan (and his circle) for the neglect of the poor, the ill (especially AIDS victims) and the nonwhite, but he also gives Reagan credit for his hard stance with the Soviets and for restoring American confidence, though he reminds us that the Strategic Defense Initiative—the “Star Wars” missile protection system—was daffy from the outset. He suggests that Reagan escaped a possible impeachment (Iran-Contra) due to the declining mental acuity that ended in Alzheimer’s, and he devotes some pages to Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush and to the nastiness of campaigns.

A thoughtful analysis that will annoy and please readers on both sides of the aisle.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0231169882

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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...

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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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