YANKEE WOMEN

GENDER BATTLES IN THE CIVIL WAR

Although at times unevenly woven, this account of three women's struggles to serve the Union adds new texture to the well- worn Civil War metaphor ``a house divided.'' Drawing on their letters and journals as well as formal historical sources, Leonard (History/Colby College) chronicles the lives of three women who battled gender stereotypes in order to participate in the war effort: Sophronia Bucklin, a volunteer nurse; Annie Wittenmyer, a soldiers' aid activist; and Mary Edwards Walker, a licensed physician. Each of the three struggled daily against their male co-workers and superiors, who operated under a rigid set of assumptions about women's abilities (for self- sacrificing nurture, not compensated service) and proper place (maintaining home and hearth, not participating in war). Bucklin persevered even though she, like other nurses at the front, was denied pay and expected to perform menial jobs. Male stubbornness obstructed Wittenmyer in her efforts to institutionalize services; even her Special Diet kitchens, attached to army hospitals, met with stubborn opposition, probably because they offered paid, public work for women. Despite achieving the respect of army officials in the field, Walker was repeatedly rebuffed in her applications for a formal commission. Leonard describes how all three of her subjects helped create new possibilities for women after the war, but she especially appreciates Walker's radical assault on gender prescriptions—her pursuit of a paid commission, heroism on the bloodiest battle fronts, and insistence on practical, ``un-womanly'' attire. While postbellum accounts of women and the war commended both Bucklin and Wittenmyer, Walker was denigrated as a ``freak'' or a ``crank.'' This discrepancy, in Leonard's radical feminist view, attests to the singular strength of Walker's character and demands historical notice. Despite some narrative discord arising from the uneasy mix of broad cultural generalizations and minute historical details, a valuable contribution to our understanding of the durability and vulnerability of ideas about gender in the 19th century.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-393-03666-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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