In a real contribution to the literature on the Civil War, Furgurson (Chancellorsville, 1863, 1992, etc.) paints a lively portrait of the Confederacy's first city in wartime. Before the Civil War, Richmond, Va., the state capital, was a prosperous city; during the war, it served as the South's administrative capital, military headquarters, and principal industrial center. As a result, Richmond was under almost constant threat from Federal armies. In the early years of the war, the citizenry of Richmond exhibited enthusiasm for the Confederate cause, tempered with nervousness during various Union invasions. After Grant launched his 1864 campaign to subdue the Southern capital, the city developed a siege mentality that ultimately sapped the will of the South. As a result, in a metamorphosis that was a mirror image of Lincoln's in the North, the popularity of Jefferson Davis waned through the war, until the man who once could not walk through Richmond without being mobbed could ride through the streets of the capital without so much as a cheer. As Davis's western military effort collapsed, the war became more and more a fight to preserve Richmond. Also, Furgurson shows that the struggle for mastery of Richmond reached inside the capital, where Union sympathizers and Federal spies worked to undermine the Confederate government and give aid and comfort to the large numbers of Northern prisoners there, interned at the notorious Libby and Belle Isle prisons. While most Unionists made modest contributions, one spy, Elizabeth Van Lew, was acknowledged by generals Butler and Grant to have given valuable information to the Union side throughout the war. The author points out that the Confederate war effort survived the fall of the other major Southern cities—New Orleans, Mobile, Atlanta—but ended immediately when the rebel government abandoned Richmond. A well-conceived, finely drawn portrait of wartime Richmond. (16 pages photos, 3 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42232-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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