Clear and sometimes-passionate prose shows us the persistent nastiness underlying our founding narrative.




Horne (History and African-American Studies/Univ. of Houston; Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation, 2012, etc.) returns with insights about the American Revolution that fracture even more some comforting myths about the Founding Fathers.

The author does not tiptoe through history’s grassy fields; he swings a scythe. He helps readers see that slavery was pervasive in the American colonies—and not just in the South (Rhode Island was a major player in shipping)—and reminds us of the fierce New World competition among England, France and Spain. But beneath these basics is an aquifer of information about slave revolts and the consequent fears of slaveholders. Horne takes us around the colonies, showing that the vast numbers of Africans were setting off alarms all over. He argues that Georgia, for example, was created as a white buffer state between Spanish Florida and the Carolinas, but the white Georgians were soon unhappy: They didn’t want to do the unpleasant manual labor, and their competitors—the slaveholders—had an economic advantage. As a result, slaves were soon flowing into Georgia, and Georgians soon began experiencing the same anxieties as the rest of the white colonists. As England began to move more toward ending its slave trade (not for humanitarian reasons), uneasy Americans (rich white ones) began to meet and bray about freedom and liberty, causing many, of course, to note the hypocrisy. Horne also examines the ever harsher laws passed by timorous whites against slaves who disobeyed or revolted—moves which, as the author shows, only intensified slave anger and resistance. As many as 20,000 slaves joined the Redcoats in the Revolution, and the author traces some of our lingering racism back to 1776.

Clear and sometimes-passionate prose shows us the persistent nastiness underlying our founding narrative.

Pub Date: April 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4798-9340-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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