This book is not, the author would have us know, a history of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee "in any formal sense. it leaves out too much for that." Perhaps it does, but what has certainly not been left out is a sense of the historical value of what a mere 150 fully committed young men and women, Negro and white, with a few thousand part-time supporters, are accomplishing today in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. We all owe them a debt for "releasing he idealism locked so long inside a nation that has not recently tested the drama of a social upheaval." And we — they, also — owe Mr. Zinn a debt f or writing such a vivid, moving account which captures the spirit of its subject so well that one ceases to remember that one is only reading about these people and their cause — one is there; and if not beside them in the marches, the sit-ins, the courts, and the jails, t hen at least forced to look on from a few yards away while they are kicked or tortured with cattle prods. What may be lacking in "objectivity" here is more than compensated for by faith and urgent honesty. Too little of this story was known to the general public until the recent tragic disappearance of three civil rights workers brought it headlines — for a while. Here is much, if by no means all, of the inside story, the people actually involved and the nature of the involvement.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1964

ISBN: 0896086798

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1964

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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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