Delicately filigreed vignettes of a Wisconsin farm life from children's-book author Jackson. In 1906, when his hearing failed, Jackson's grandfather abandoned his ministry and bought a dairy farm. By 1907, he was delivering milk, the bottles stoppered with a cap imprinted ``W.J. Dougan, The Babies' Milkman.'' He was a conscientious farmer who ran a tight and good ship, experimented intelligently, and treated his employees with respect. He prospered. Jackson grew up on the spread, and here she paints its days. There are profiles of farmhands, loony and saintlike and otherwise; conjurings of the odor, light, and aura of tucked-away places on the farm—a dim passageway between cow barn and side building, secret venues in the big house where Jackson could pick away at the wallpaper unseen. Many of the 47 short chapters recount everyday events: milking and detasseling and delivery runs in the dead of night, Grampa's first tax return (it set him back 13 cents), the ebb and flow of depression years and boom times, and the kind of stuff that stays fixed in a young mind (a rail-walking hobo cut in half by a train). And there are not a few episodes written with startling beauty; in one, she tells of an early infatuation, her first, with a young fellow working at the farm. It was during WW II, he enlisted, and his plane went down over Europe. A green star was placed by the MIA's name on the church honor roll. Years later Jackson finds the honor roll in a storeroom of the church, presses a gold star (``the kind her piano teacher used to put on a piece when it was finished'') of ultimate sacrifice atop the green one and closes the man's short life. Elegant and polished. Jackson finds little gems in the muck and toil of farming life. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8101-5072-7

Page Count: 300

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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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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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

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