Less fluent, but also broader, than Fergus M. Bordewich’s Bound for Canaan (p. 94).




An overview of African-American resistance to injustice from the early days of slavery to the heyday of the civil rights movement and beyond.

The quest for civil rights has occupied African-Americans from the first generations in captivity, independent scholars Hendrick and Hendrick show. Most, the authors insist, “attempted to escape bondage without doing bodily harm to anyone,” and though violent slave rebellions exercised contemporary observers and still figure in the history textbooks, nonviolent civil disobedience was more common an instrument of resistance. African-Americans, too, were important actors in the various Northern abolition movements of the three decades preceding the Civil War. Frederick Douglass, for one, began as a follower of William Lloyd Garrison, but later broke with that movement as he came to believe that armed conflict was necessary to achieve emancipation. An early form of protest was the boycotting of goods produced by slave labor, such as cotton, sugar and tobacco; this same form of protest became a hallmark of Mohandas Gandhi’s later satyagraha movement in South Africa and India, which would come full circle when adopted in the 1950s by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Hendricks’ long detour into Gandhi’s life and work is a distraction, well-covered and well-known as these matters are, but their continued attention to the nonviolent aspect of the struggle is welcome, particularly as its practitioners remained resolute in the most trying of circumstances, such as the resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activities in the early-20th century and the corresponding wave of lynchings throughout the South—3,745, the authors record, in the U.S. between 1889 and 1932. The specter of lynching closes the book, as the authors consider the 1998 murder of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas, a town, they write, that even today seems never to have heard of desegregation.

Less fluent, but also broader, than Fergus M. Bordewich’s Bound for Canaan (p. 94).

Pub Date: May 20, 2005

ISBN: 1-56663-609-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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