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

READ REVIEW

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more