A fair assessment of Hughes’ eminent career and an accessible, knowledgeable consideration of the important lawsuits of the...




An instructive, vigorous account of FDR’s attempt at court-packing, and the chief justice who weathered the storm with equanimity.

Charles Evans Hughes (1862–1948) isn’t one of the more studied justices, though he presided over the Supreme Court during the historic New Deal era, and enjoyed a long, fascinating career, as Simon (Emeritus/New York Law School, Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney, 2006, etc.) develops in depth. An adored only son of a minister who expected his son to pursue the ministry, Hughes went instead into law, eventually setting up a lucrative practice on Wall Street. He first gained an intellectually rigorous, high-minded reputation by taking on the utilities industry in New York; courted by the Republican party, he was elected governor, and first appointed to the Supreme Court by President Taft in 1910, only to resign to run for president in 1916, a campaign lost in favor of Woodrow Wilson. After serving as Secretary of State under President Harding, he was reappointed to the highest bench by President Hoover, this time as Chief Justice in 1930. Yet he proved to be no cardboard pro-business model, and when FDR was elected amid economic mayhem during the Great Depression, the court was split. FDR’s emergency legislature during his 100 first days was challenged by the conservatives, precipitating one of FDR’s worst blunders: a court reform proposal sent to Congress that would increase the number of justices and force retirement for the septuagenarians—as most of them were. “Shrieks of outrage” greeted the dictatorial proposal, which was resoundingly rejected by the Senate. However, Simon looks carefully at the change in court direction with the threats of reform, along with Hughes’ own sense of consternation and later important decisions in the protection of civil rights—e.g., Gaines v. Canada.

A fair assessment of Hughes’ eminent career and an accessible, knowledgeable consideration of the important lawsuits of the era.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7328-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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