A powerful case for viewing the unfinished Civil War as a Confederate victory after all.



A thought-provoking study of the centuries-spanning battle between oligarchy and equality in America.

In 1860, writes Richardson (History/Boston Coll.; To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party, 2014, etc.), the Republican Party took pains in its platform to remind audiences of the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that “all men are created equal.” All men were not equal, of course, to say nothing of women, who would not gain the right to vote for another three generations. Still, the Republicans opposed a slave system that they regarded as despotic while Southern true believers held that a small elite formed a proper polity all their own, slave owners who “would resolve the American paradox by shearing off the portion of it that endorsed equality.” It was this radical rejection of a founding premise, however imperfectly applied, that distinguished Republicans and Southern Democrats. By Richardson’s account, it is this radical rejection that, the party roles having reversed polarity a century later, distinguishes Republicans from Democrats, the former of whom now possess “the language they need to undermine our democracy, and to replace it with an oligarchy.” Furthermore, they believed that “their new system made their nation different from the Old World, which was split between a corrupt aristocracy and the lazy poor.” In their view, a corrupt aristocracy was fine as long as it did not have to share spoils or power; of course, the common trope among Republicans these days is that if you’re poor, it’s because you choose to be. Nixon’s “Southern strategy” did much to propel neo-Confederate values into the modern Republican Party. Later, Newt Gingrich enshrined them, fortifying class inequality by placing “tax cuts at the center of Republican policy” and reducing political interference by changing lawmaking so that lobbyists—not representatives—wrote regulations and laws that “were designed to put the American government at the service of democracy.”

A powerful case for viewing the unfinished Civil War as a Confederate victory after all.

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-090090-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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