A fresh, well-documented account of U.S.–Latin American relations.




Drawing on archival sources and more than two dozen oral histories, Rutkow (History/Univ. of Central Florida; American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation, 2012) offers a richly detailed examination of efforts to build a highway from Alaska to the tip of Argentina.

Although there are many histories of the construction of the Panama Canal and the nation’s highway system, the author fills a gap by recounting the political visions, economic hopes, and engineering challenges that played out during nearly 100 years, beginning with the dream of an intercontinental railway. Among the champions of that dream was a former consul to Buenos Aires, the indefatigable Hinton Rowan Helper—one of many colorful characters in Rutkow’s well-populated narrative—who, in the mid-1800s, imagined an alternative to dangerous, unreliable sea travel: 10,000 miles of trains. In 1890, the Intercontinental Railway Commission was established, though with scant participation from Latin American countries. But by 1903, Mexico had begun construction, and small lines linked agricultural zones in Central America. Captains of industry—Carnegie and Gould among them—took notice: The north-south railroad, the Wall Street Journal reported, “has commended itself to the wisdom of many who have studied it on its economic, engineering, and financial sides.” World War I underscored the benefit of hemispheric connections when trade with European markets was impeded. With the expansion of the U.S. highway system, however, and the rise of a new “motoring generation” supplied by influential car manufacturers, the vision of a railroad transformed into a highway network that would foster “closer and more harmonious relations” between the nations of the Western world. After World War II, the road became seen as a “highway of freedom” to prevent the spread of communism in Latin America. Building a highway across difficult terrain proved both dangerous and expensive, but by 1963, the Pan-American highway opened—with the exception of one 400-mile gap of impenetrable jungle.

A fresh, well-documented account of U.S.–Latin American relations.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0390-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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