An ambitious, intelligent exploration into the intellectual underpinnings of the Revolution.



Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Rakove (History, American Studies and Political Science/Stanford Univ.; Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, 1996, etc.) reflects on how a group of lawyers and planters came to wage the American Revolution.

Instead of focusing on the battlefield, the author examines what might be called a revolution of the mind—that is, how the early Founding Fathers’ ideas developed and took hold. Early on, moderates who did not wish independence from England—such as John Dickinson, who wrote the influential anti-tax Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania in the late 1760s—were among the most important voices of protest. But England’s much-reviled Stamp Act, among other outrages, put livelihoods at stake and turned apolitical men into partisans and merchants and farmers into budding revolutionaries. Rakove admirably avoids hagiography, refreshingly portraying these men as ordinary human beings who simply rose to the challenge of their age. And what a challenge it was—the creation of the United States was nothing if not an arduous, argumentative process. The author dissects that process in exquisite detail, getting inside the minds of these very different men to find out what made them tick—for example, how Alexander Hamilton’s desire for fame drove his consistently ambitious ideas, or how Thomas Jefferson’s love for France may have affected his views on self-government. Rakove’s analysis of James Madison at the Constitutional Convention, in particular, reveals the future president as an extraordinarily complex and politically creative thinker—truly a case of the right man in the right place at the right time. Though the author’s prose is a bit dry, his feel for the politics of the day is unerring.

An ambitious, intelligent exploration into the intellectual underpinnings of the Revolution.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-618-26746-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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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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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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