One of two action-packed works about the notorious border ruffian and Confederate guerrilla to be published this season (see Duane Schultz's Quantrill's War: The Life and Times of William Clarke Quantrill, p. 1134). Little has survived in Quantrill's hand, writes freelance historian Leslie (Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls, 1988): a few letters home, a couple of commemorative verses, an eight-paragraph military report. It is thus not easy to determine what motivated the man who terrorized the abolitionists of Kansas before and during the Civil War. Born in Ohio to a Unionist family who opposed slavery, he seems to have been converted to the Southern cause while working as a freighter in Utah Territory during the Mormon War, and he embraced the cause with ferocious energy. A part-time cattle rustler when the Civil War broke out, Quantrill, writes Leslie, seems to have had a streak of cruelty—a wartime associate recalls that he once shot a pig just to make it squeal—that served him well in his campaign of terror. Many thousands of deaths can be attributed to his guerrilla command, including the 150 civilians slain during his infamous 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kan. ``I would cover the armies of the Confederacy all over with blood,'' he wrote to a superior. ``I would invade. I would reward audacity. I would exterminate. . . . I would win the independence of my people or I would find them graves.'' Quantrill rode into infamy, dying at the age of 27 near the war's end; his notoriety was assured both because of his own depredations and because among his soldiers were Frank and Jesse James and the Cole brothers, who were to become famous outlaws. Leslie does a remarkably thorough job of telling Quantrill's bloody story, and especially of relating the grisly fate of his remains, which the author traces as they traveled over the next century from one burial site to another, with an intermediate stop at an Ohio fraternity house. Highly recommended for Civil War buffs and students of frontier history. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42455-5

Page Count: 447

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet