THE EARTH SHALL WEEP

A HISTORY OF NATIVE AMERICA

A sweeping, well-written, long-view history of American Indian societies. Wilson, a British writer for television and radio documentaries, does a creditable job of interpreting the Native American past and present for his intended European readers, although he misses a few references that are familiar to Americans and has to explain a few others that we take for granted on these shores. But mostly, he gets it right—while also taking up some themes that American scholars have overlooked, especially European Enlightenment views of the “noble savage” and ideas that some unknown historical force propelled the European conquerors of America to “subdue the wilderness and supplant the ‘Indian”’ “who, those views had it, was somehow stuck at a lower stage of cultural development than any enjoyed by the newcomers. Although he relies heavily on the work of revisionist historians, such as the Sioux scholar Vine Deloria, Wilson takes care to examine a wide range of scholarly materials (about which he offers some nicely barbed commentary); based on these sources, he reconsiders such matters as the Indian population of North America at the time of the European arrival, which he believes has been seriously underestimated in number by some millions of inhabitants. Wilson sometimes falls into confusion, as do many of his American counterparts, when dealing with such notoriously complex subjects as the fluid post-WWII status of Indian nations vis-Ö-vis the federal government; and he misses several important events in recent Indian news, such as the revival of the American Indian Movement in the mid-1990s. But in the main, his is a trustworthy telling of a sad epic of misunderstanding, mayhem, and massacre.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-87113-730-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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?

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?

more