While occasionally bogged down in detail, this study of the lead-up to the American Revolution effectively explores the...



A new history of “perhaps the most densely described incident in early American history.”

In his examination of the 1770 Boston Massacre, Hinderaker (History/Univ. of Utah; The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery, 2009, etc.) deftly explores the characters of British leaders, American administrators, and those who stirred what many considered a mob. Boston was the crucible of the American Revolution, and the British occupation served as the catalyst that eventually built to the violent events of March 5. The troops sent to Boston were symbols of Britain’s overwhelming power over the colonies, and the standing army served as a threat to the independence of the local government. The author explores how England was trying to control a colony substantially increased in size, and the primary dilemma was the recurrent antagonism of Bostonians: their reactions to the Liberty Incident, the Townshend Duties, and the Stamp Act. Administrators and tax collectors were harassed, their homes invaded and destroyed. The troops’ powerlessness is the key here; they were sent to quell rebellious actions. They were never requested by civil power and thus had no power to react to citizens’ agitation unless the confusing and frustrating Riot Act was read. The incident of March 5 was caused by the troops, who were facing very real threats but were forbidden to react, being pushed too far. When someone heard (or didn’t) “fire,” shots rang out, killing five. What really happened and what people said happened were two different things, but the symbolic power of the massacre transcends the details. The trials of the soldiers, delayed for months, cleared all but two, settling few disputes about the incident. The author ably exposes the symbolic import of the massacre as it defined the limits of legitimate authority and of legitimate popular protest.

While occasionally bogged down in detail, this study of the lead-up to the American Revolution effectively explores the major players and difficult conditions.

Pub Date: March 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-674-04833-1

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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

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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

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