A pleasure for students of Texas history, and a fine complement to Randolph E. Campbell’s more complete Gone to Texas (p....

LONE STAR NATION

HOW A RAGGED ARMY OF VOLUNTEERS WON THE BATTLE FOR TEXAS INDEPENDENCE--AND CHANGED AMERICA

A sturdy survey of early-19th-century Texas history and the “Texican” struggle for independence.

Brands (History/Texas A&M; The Age of Gold, 2002, etc.), one of the most fluent of narrative historians, spins a good yarn, strong on colorful characters and situations. He even adds a few subtle shades to the exceptionalist interpretation of Lone Star State history, which paints the place as a sort of promised land. Perhaps, Brands rejoins, but Texas was a frontier for a long time after its discovery, an empty place: “To find Texas,” he writes, “one had to be looking for it.” Yet for the hardscrabble farmers of Tennessee, “where the stony ridges and thin soil tested the patience of even the Jobs among the plowmen,” the fertile soil of the Texas bottomlands promised paradise, and the entrepreneurs who recruited them to accept Mexican citizenship and colonize the place made a comfortable living from the place, too—never mind the fact that plenty of people with longer pedigrees had their own claims to the land. Brands doesn’t offer much new in the way of fact, but his narrative is fluent and even entertaining, and it gives and strips away credit as is due. Stephen Austin, for instance, emerges as a somewhat slippery character who began his Texas career as a naturalized Mexican citizen opposed to “mad schemes of independence,” so much so that he denounced would-be rebels to the authorities; Antonio López de Santa Anna earns points for bravery, even as he “distracted his compatriots from their domestic problems by reopening the Texas war” in 1842, several years after most books about the Alamo end; and so forth. There are a couple of false notes here and there—slavery seems almost an accident, for instance—but on the whole, Brands’s account is as good as any in the literature.

A pleasure for students of Texas history, and a fine complement to Randolph E. Campbell’s more complete Gone to Texas (p. 726).

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2004

ISBN: 0-385-50737-2

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2003

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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