THE TRANSFORMATION OF EARLY AMERICAN HISTORY

SOCIETY, AUTHORITY, AND IDEOLOGY

A collection of essays about the colonial period of American history, written and edited by former graduate students—now professors themselves—of Harvard Univ. historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Bernard Bailyn (Faces of Revolution, 1990, etc.) The opening essays—by Kammen, Katz, Gordon Wood, and Jack Rakove—pay affectionate tribute to Bailyn as scholar and as an influential if enigmatic classroom mentor. ``He has in fact,'' writes Wood, ``redrawn whole sections of the map of our historical knowledge of early American history and has greatly broadened and deepened our understanding of America's colonial past—generating by himself schools of scholarship.'' The remaining eight essays attempt, with varying degrees of success, to explore the issues of cultural transmission that have obsessed Bailyn. Philip Greven contributes a haunting analysis of how the memory of child abuse affected the poetry and theological thinking of Puritan minister Michael Wigglesworth. Mary Beth Norton offers one of the better products of local and women's history: a subtle examination of the different ways men and women were treated by law in 17th-century Maryland. David Thomas Konig's essay on the use of common law in colonizing Ireland and Virginia is also illuminating, as are essays by Michael Zuckerman and Pauline Maier. However, other pieces by Richard Buel, Henretta, and Richard L. Bushman sometimes bog down in historiographical argument. While often probing, this series of essays on little-known yet important aspects of early American life could sometimes use the literary sparkle and comprehensive sweep that Bailyn himself has invariably brought to his work.

Pub Date: June 6, 1991

ISBN: 0-394-58147-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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