by J. L. Askew ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 30, 2020
An exhaustively detailed account of the movements of the Macbeth men, as told from their point of view.
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
Page Count: 536
Publisher: Covenant Books
Review Posted Online: March 3, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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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.
Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006
Page Count: 120
Publisher: Hill & Wang
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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