The author capably records the fading echoes of all the gaiety and gunfire, but he tends to attribute more cultural...



Pomerantz (Communication/Stanford Univ.; Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era, 2005, etc.) serves up intertwining Depression-era stories of bridge, high society and murder.

In addition to providing a biography of two of the card game’s great talents and popularizers, Ely and Josephine Culbertson, the author chronicles the emergence of bridge and examines a sensational bridge-related murder trial in Kansas City. Pomerantz looks back at the shooting of Jack Bennett, who, over a bridge table, slapped his wife, Myrtle, a few times. She promptly got a gun and shot him, then was acquitted in an O.J. Simpson–like murder trial in 1931 that featured a frenzied media and a dramatic defense attorney, former U.S. Senator James A. Reed, a fiery old-school orator. The author interweaves the tale of the Culbertsons, especially of Ely, a full-fledged egomaniac with a gift for self-promotion. Culbertson challenged and defeated experts on both sides of the Atlantic, and the press enthusiastically covered the encounters. But he eventually became too eccentric even for wife Jo; they divorced and he remarried—and divorced again. All the while he clung tenaciously to his bridge reputation and was not displaced until the emergence of new guru Charles Goren in the ’40s. Pomerantz supplies sufficient bridge history for the uninitiated and includes explanations and a glossary. In the final chapters, Pomerantz appears in the first person, telling us what happened to everyone. He finds and fires a gun like the death weapon, interviews people who knew the principals and walks around the apartment where the shooting occurred. Unfortunately, cliché occasionally creeps into the generally lively text—“It brought chills,” he writes of his murder-scene visit.

The author capably records the fading echoes of all the gaiety and gunfire, but he tends to attribute more cultural consequence to these events than they merit.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5162-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?