A pleasant surprise for the average history buff.

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LINCOLN'S BISHOP

A PRESIDENT, A PRIEST, AND THE FATE OF 300 DAKOTA SIOUX WARRIORS

Enlightening tale of Abraham Lincoln’s other war.

In 1862, overshadowed by the Civil War, a dire conflict known as the Dakota War roiled the southern half of Minnesota. Journalist Niebuhr (Newspaper and Online Journalism/Syracuse Univ.; Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America, 2008) provides an intriguing examination of this chapter in American frontier history, focusing especially on the figure of Henry Benjamin Whipple (1822-1901). A transplant from New York and Illinois, Whipple was the first Episcopal bishop in Minnesota and immediately began crusading on behalf of Native Americans there. “He stated his goal simply: the Indians must be protected from corrupt government agents and rapacious traders, especially those who dealt in liquor and abused women,” writes the author. Throughout even the direst moments of the Dakota War and its aftermath, Whipple maintained that maltreatment at the hands of the American government had driven the Dakotas to acts of violence—and in many instances, quite grotesque violence. Niebuhr lays out the precipitant causes of the war—delayed annuities for tribes that had traded in land, leading to hunger and resentment—and chronicles its opening volleys. He also provides a detailed account of the war’s major engagements and its effects on white settlement. But the author always comes back to Whipple, seen by many as an Indian sympathizer, who nonetheless had profound influence on policymakers. His triumph was in convincing Lincoln to spare the lives of 275 Dakota captives (others were hanged for wanton brutality during the war). Niebuhr’s work sometimes feels choppy, bouncing back and forth chronologically and going over some of the same ground more than once. However, that does not lessen the fact that it provides a service by reintroducing readers to Whipple, an early proponent of minority rights, as well as to the Dakota War.

A pleasant surprise for the average history buff.

Pub Date: June 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-209768-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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