A thoughtful treat for the Lincoln and Civil War crowds.



Noted historians reflect on the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

“Thousands of works have been written about Lincoln, and almost any Lincoln you want can be found in the literature,” writes contributor Eric Foner, and his contention is borne out by these recent papers from the Lincoln Forum, an annual scholarly event. Co-editors Holzer (Lincoln and the Power of the Press, 2014, etc.), Symonds (Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings, 2014, etc.) and Williams (Judging Lincoln, 2002, etc.) have gathered authoritative views of Lincoln as a leader whose many facets—military strategist, savvy politician, man of exceptional character, among others—have earned him admiration as our greatest president. Contributors examine Lincoln’s relationships, actions and beliefs; his views on slavery and race; and his deft politicking to win the 1860 presidential campaign. Many papers focus on issues of concern to specialists. Others will have far broader appeal: Michael J. Kline offers a detailed account of the so-called Baltimore Plot to kill the president-elect (and finds no convincing evidence for it); Barnet Schecter traces the complexities of the 1863 New York City Draft Riots, the largest civil insurrection in U.S. history (where emotions over the first federal conscription law and fears over the Emancipation Proclamation exploded in five days of arson, looting and lynching); and Jason Emerson describes his discovery of Mary Lincoln’s long-lost sanitarium letters, which confirm her serious mental illness. John Stauffer tells the fascinating story of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” an anthem that began as an early-19th-century Southern camp meeting spiritual and later became the theme song for Billy Sunday’s revivals. Catherine Clinton’s contribution on mourning is a moving portrait of grieving mothers, many of whom turned to mediums to communicate with the dead.

A thoughtful treat for the Lincoln and Civil War crowds.

Pub Date: March 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8232-6563-3

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Fordham Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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

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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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