AFFAIRS OF STATE

THE RISE AND REJECTION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL COUPLE

Emphasizing the increasingly complex political and cultural role of the First Lady, Troy (History/McGill Univ.; See How They Ran, 1991) takes an unusual look at the travails of ten modern presidential couples, from the Trumans to the Clintons. While First Ladies could be popular or unpopular, and could always exert an influence on policy (most dramatically in the case of Woodrow Wilson's wife, Edith, after Wilson's stroke in 1919), Troy argues, only recently has the concept of the ``First Couple'' emerged, in which the role of the president's wife helps define the direction and success of her husband's administration. Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, and Jackie Kennedy were high-profile women whose popularity contributed to their husbands' electoral successes, but in contrast to more recent First Ladies, they didn't play a direct role in formulating policy, Troy points out. The Eisenhowers' strong marriage, for instance, helped Ike maintain high approval ratings throughout his two administrations. Jackie Kennedy, with her enormous popularity and glamour, self-consciously created a Kennedy myth that concealed the president's marital infidelities and other sordid truths for years. As the role of women changed in society in recent decades, so did that of the First Lady; Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford were activist First Ladies who became lightning rods for criticism of their husbands; the Carters and Reagans were ``co-presidents,'' with the First Lady having a direct impact on important aspects of policy. The Clintons represent the culmination of this trend: Hillary Rodham Clinton was put in charge of a major policy initiative, and her activities became a principal headache for her husband. Her unpopularity demonstrated the popular confusion and discomfort over the First Lady's evolution from simply the president's wife to a political partner. Full of surprising and fascinating anecdotes, this is an absorbing look at an often-overlooked aspect of the modern presidency. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-82820-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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