Effectively brings this tense interlude to vivid life.

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LINCOLN PRESIDENT-ELECT

ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE GREAT SECESSION WINTER 1860-1861

Award-winning Lincoln scholar Holzer (Lincoln at Cooper Union, 2004, etc.) meticulously examines the ominous period between the 16th president’s election and his swearing in.

In 1860 custom prevented Lincoln from taking the presidential oath until March, some four months after he won the office. This dangerously long interregnum—which Henry Adams called “The Great Secession Winter”—unfortunately coincided with the single greatest crisis in the nation’s history: the secession of southern states from the union. While the hapless incumbent James Buchanan dithered, Lincoln, without legal authority, maneuvered behind the scenes to stiffen his own supporters, assiduously avoiding needless offense to the South. From borrowed capitol offices in his hometown of Springfield, Ill., he faced the delicate political task of assembling his cabinet; answered torrents of mail from and met with hundreds of critics, well-wishers and office-seekers; sat for artists and photographers and began growing his iconic beard; worked on the most important speech of his life, his inaugural address; and contacted hundreds of opinion-makers, party leaders and members of Congress, attempting to contain the crisis. With a month to go before inauguration, he delivered his touching farewell address to his neighbors and set off on a 13-day trip to Washington. Relying on recollections by Lincoln’s contemporaries, newspaper and magazine accounts, Holzer turns in a learned chronicle of a massively significant few months.

Effectively brings this tense interlude to vivid life.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7432-8947-4

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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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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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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