A fact-filled, copiously illustrated, revealing survey of Yankee life and households in an earlier time, complied by Boston- based curator Nylander (Director/Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). Drawing on an array of original documents and records— especially on a handful of diaries written by New England women of the period—Nylander offers a substantive view of household life during a time that saw the nation established and its northern regions industrialized. The images the author presents are often those in which female activities or concerns predominate, although the male presence in the home is by no means given short shrift. The family ``unit'' in pre-Civil War America, Nylander explains, included nonnuclear members as well as boarders, hired help, and, frequently, young married couples preparing to create a household of their own—with daily routines consisting not only of meal preparation and house cleaning but also of spinning, sewing, and preparing for a variety of future events, from marriage to parties and other social gatherings. Changes in technology prompted immense shifts in these routines, with, for instance, iron stoves replacing the massive kitchen fireplaces and commercial weaving offering greater variety than the homemade product. But while the agricultural or village aspects of New England living generally dominate this account, the emphasis clearly is on more well-to-do families rather than their more numerous, poorer—and less literate—neighbors. Not comprehensive, then, and at times overly reliant on diary excerpts—but informative, and valuable for its many glimpses of American interiors. (Illustrations—162—throughout)

Pub Date: April 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-54984-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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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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