KENT STATE

WHAT HAPPENED AND WHY

Michener and staff have produced a collage, now appearing in the Reader's Digest, of graphic second-hand accounts, reconstructions of student life and town sentiment, interpretations and misinterpretations of the Kent State events of May 1970. About the shooting itself, the book says the Guard was not surrounded; no order to shoot was given; there is no evidence of a sniper and much evidence that the Guards were not all afraid for their lives. It was, however, "not murder," but "a tragic accident": a "riotous condition," if not a real riot, prevailed, and Michener insists that hard-core revolutionaries were out to force a confrontation, as if their intent proves their responsibility. This claim is backed up chiefly by testimony that people with NLF flags were standing on the sidelines and yelling revenge slogans afterward. Coeds' profanity, which receives countless repetitive references, assumes the proportions of a second major cause; Cambodia itself and the national pattern of uprisings are given infinitely less weight. On the one and foremost hand, Michener stresses campus visits by SDS leaders over the years, and at psychologically key points he interpolates nonsense about Cuban funding of SDS (his most highly praised source is Eugene Methvin, ultraconservative author of The Riot Makers) and about radical plans to make Kent a regional focus of their efforts. In other spots he acknowledges that the campus "straights" were passionately anti-war and anti-draft, that many moderates were glad to see the ROTC building burn, and that "disorders" were "much, much worse" on other Ohio campuses. There are long pontifications about how the "new life style" touches the most apolitical students, along with an equation between life-style and "Marxist-based" worldwide student revolt. In his descriptions of the teaching assistants, so inflammatory as to invite further witch-hunts, as in his imputation of uncanny powers to the activists, Michener is making mischief; but especially in the epilogue he covers himself with a plea to spare peaceable radicals and junior faculty for the sake of free-flowing ideas. As a work of interpretive journalism, it is far less scrupulous than I. F. Stone's Killings At Kent State (1970).

Pub Date: April 30, 1971

ISBN: 0449202739

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1971

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more