A new study or the 1948 election that has long been called the greatest upset in American political history. Donaldson, (History/Xavier Univ.) provides persuasive analyses of postwar politics, the tactics of contending political parties that marked the breakup of the old FDR New Deal coalition after WWII. To many voters, “Plain Harry” Truman was a drastic letdown after the charismatic and innovative FDR. Truman had little use for New Dealers and was heard to call them “crackpots” and “the lunatic fringe”. He replaced the FDR cabinet with his political cronies and old war buddies. Donaldson finds that only FDR could hold together his unlikely coalition of leftists, liberals, aggressive labor unions, conservative farmers, newly united northern African-Americans, professionals and right-wing southern white supremacists. Truman walked a tightrope between these contending forces. In addition, Donaldson points out that Republicans drew away many old FDR voters who perceived the Yalta conference as a sellout to the Soviet Union. The GOP captured Congress in the 1946 elections as Truman’s popularity declined. All polls predicted a Republican landslide in 1948. Truman found he couldn—t please all factions and decided to abandon the far leftists and the extreme southern white supremacists, both of whom formed new parties led respectively by Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond. Truman’s feisty “whistle stop” train campaign and “give them hell, Harry” speeches endeared him to millions of Americans In the west and south and in large cities. He regained many lukewarm voters with no other place to go except to the newly animated Harry. Donaldson argues that the overconfident Dewey lost the election with his bland, boring campaign speeches as much as Truman won it in a close popular vote. An excellent history of a remarkable event in a tumultuous time in America. (For another look at this election, see Harold I. Gullan, The Upset that Wasn’t, p. 1432.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8131-2075-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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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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