Outsized personalities within a blistering campaign render this work a rollicking history lesson.




A lively account of Theodore Roosevelt’s would-be murder reveals the roiling issues and personalities of that key campaign.

Not many people know the name of John Flammang Schrank (1876–1943), a German-American New Yorker who tracked Roosevelt’s stops on the railroad campaign circuit of late summer and early fall of 1912 and resolved to shoot him. The actual shooting on October 14 in Milwaukee was superficial, unlike that 11 years earlier of President William McKinley, assassinating him and thus leaving Roosevelt as president. Yet Roosevelt’s shooting certainly yanked American politics into the modern era and revealed the courage of the irrepressible victim. In this light-pedaling, accessible study, Helferich (Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya, 2011, etc.) creates several wonderful character studies: of Roosevelt, whom he calls either the Colonel or “the third termer,” to designate the focus of Schrank’s rage against him in putting himself up for election to a third (nonconsecutive) term; of the much-maligned incumbent President William Howard Taft, Roosevelt’s handpicked successor who was so cowed by the anxiety of influence that he could not exert his own will in his own term and, when the wildly popular Roosevelt resolved to challenge him for the Republican nomination, fell out with him in an ugly, public battle; and of Schrank, a friendless landlord with accumulated grievances who believed Roosevelt’s hubris and unchecked ambition to run for a third term was a gross abuse of tried-and-true democratic institutions. Moreover, Helferich examines a dream that Schrank supposedly had that convinced him of Roosevelt’s conniving in McKinley’s murder and lent some truth to the court’s assumption that Schrank was delusional.

Outsized personalities within a blistering campaign render this work a rollicking history lesson.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7627-8299-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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