An accessible work of scholarship that will be of great interest to students of Civil War history.

READ REVIEW

ARMIES OF DELIVERANCE

A NEW HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR

A fresh interpretation of the Civil War that illuminates why Americans took up arms against each other—and why they thought they did.

Varon (American History/Univ. of Virginia; Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War, 2013) argues that the Union went to war with the Confederacy in the belief “that white Southerners could be redeemed”—redeemed, that is, from the tyranny of the planter class and the slaveholding economy and culture they imposed on the white working class. The premise of the South, conversely, was “that Northerners and Southerners could never again be countrymen.” Both suppositions had motive power, rousing armies to take to the field and fueling a bloody war that lasted for four years. Still, the Union belief that federal armies would be greeted with open arms as liberators in the South turned out to be fatally flawed; as Varon observes, “Lincoln and other Northern political figures and writers were clearly wrong about a Southern populace deceived and coerced into supporting the secessionist movement.” They had some reasons for thinking so, however, among them North Carolina’s slowness to secede and the fact that there were so many North Carolinians who “actively and sometimes violently rejected the demands of Confederate nationalism,” whether because they were Unionists or, as the war progressed, because they had deserted from Confederate armies—in fact, between 15 and 20 percent of the state’s soldiers did. Just as the South was not monolithic, so the Union had its fragments and factions. The author reckons that although Lincoln was successful in piecing together a coalition of Unionists of varying stripes, the Union army was not enthusiastic in its support for him or, at the war’s end, for Reconstruction, which helps explain why that decadelong effort is now widely considered a failure.

An accessible work of scholarship that will be of great interest to students of Civil War history.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-19-086060-8

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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...

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more