In this delightfully readable book, the author expertly shows how those affected by the Great War linked together, nourished...

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1920

THE YEAR THAT MADE THE DECADE ROAR

In a fascinating work about a remarkable year, former NBC News correspondent Burns (Invasion of the Mind Snatchers: Television's Conquest of America in the Fifties, 2010, etc.) shows us what put the roar in the Roaring ’20s.

The end of World War I brought reactions in the form of anarchy, the birth of jazz, the first Ponzi scheme, Prohibition, women’s suffrage and the birth of “mass media.” Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his assistant, J. Edgar Hoover, fought the Red Scare against the likes of Sacco and Vanzetti and the most notorious anarchist, Luigi Galleani, who swore by the “propaganda of the deed.” Their work would lose effectiveness as their agents were diverted to enforce Prohibition, which caused its own problems. The Anti-Saloon League was the first of the special interest groups, and Prohibition cost organized crime its organization, as it became a growth industry to provide unregulated, and often lethal, liquor to the masses. The election of Warren Harding in 1920 was the first in which women voted and the first time returns were broadcast on radio. It also brought the “Ohio Gang” into Washington, a group who imported Canadian liquor by the trainload, sold Teapot Dome and ran cons that Ponzi, who made millions in a few short months, would have loved. There was also extensive birth and growth. The migration of blacks to the North looking for work brought the Ku Klux Klan in their wake, but they also brought jazz and other cultural elements. Jazz brought men like Louis Armstrong to Chicago and then New York and Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance was spurred not only by jazz, but also by literature—by Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes and countless others. Burns follows it all with verve.

In this delightfully readable book, the author expertly shows how those affected by the Great War linked together, nourished each other and really did change the world.

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-772-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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