An exhaustively detailed account of the movements of the Macbeth men, as told from their point of view.

WAR IN THE MOUNTAINS

THE MACBETH LIGHT ARTILLERY AT ASHEVILLE NC: 1864-1865

A detailed history of a Confederate artillery unit.

In his nonfiction debut, Askew reflects on how he was first inspired to write a history of the Macbeth Light Artillery unit during the Civil War, due to his familiarity with his own family history: His great-grandfather had fought in the conflict and received a severe head injury—and, according to family lore, he’d been saved by a doctor who’d placed a silver dollar in the hole in his skull. The author eventually came to believe that much of what he’d learned about the Civil War was “half-truth and myth.” While doing some research, Askew came across a cache of newspaper articles that were pseudonymously written by Lt. Hazel Furman Scaife, a veteran of the Macbeth Light Artillery. After reading Scaife’s comment that the “Macbeth Light Artillery has an unwritten history that must be wrested from oblivion by the surviving members of the company,” the author decided to take it upon himself to write this history. The book offers a detailed account of the unit as it traveled around the Asheville, North Carolina, area in the last year of the war. Askew follows the men on boring marches, during their encampments in town and field, and into combat, always paying attention to the men’s moods and the weather. Askew also consistently echoes the point of view of his principal source: “Most stories of conflict depict good against evil, protagonists versus antagonists,” the author writes at one point. “While these concepts are blurred in war, the Confederates in Western North Carolina knew the villain in the drama being played in the mountains and his name was [Union Army Col.] George W. Kirk.”

The intensely local flavor is one of the book’s more notable qualities, as is Askew’s skill at bringing the day-to-day life of an artillery unit to life. Time and again, thanks to the author’s granular research, readers will feel as if they’re standing right there with the men of the Macbeth: “They followed an old mill road, quite steep and rugged and after struggling with the cannons to the mountain top had to secure the gun carriages with ropes gripped by teams of men holding the conveyances in check ‘to keep them from running over the horses.’ ” Askew thoughtfully adds an overlay of historical awareness to the account—noting, for example, the moment that the disbanded Confederate soldiers pass the Cowpens, a battle site where, as the author puts it, the soldiers’ “dreams of Southern Independence had been crushed.” His extensive research appears sound and careful, and his book joins a large bookshelf of similarly specific regimental histories. Readers of such histories will note Askew’s own argumentative stances on larger Civil War issues, and many will take issue with them; he asserts, for instance, that “slavery was an important factor in the War Between the States, [but] it was not the definitive cause of the conflict,” which he sometimes refers to as “WBTS.”

An exhaustively detailed account of the movements of the Macbeth men, as told from their point of view.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64468-576-1

Page Count: 536

Publisher: Covenant Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 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...

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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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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