A readable blend of military and political history; though not in the first rank of recent Civil War studies, a valuable...

RISING IN FLAMES

SHERMAN'S MARCH AND THE FIGHT FOR A NEW NATION

A study in unintended consequences as a reactionary Civil War commander unleashed a series of progressive forces.

William Tecumseh Sherman was a man who, in the field, spared his enemies no violence and showed little mercy. He leaned toward the despotic and was a law unto himself, and his troops were similarly situated on the edge of lawlessness. As Washington-based historian Dickey (Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC, 2014) writes at the beginning of his book, when Union forces staged a victory parade after the Confederate surrender, Sherman’s Army of the West “sported the same uniforms they had fought in—worn and tattered, ripped and frayed, riddled with bullet holes, speckled with mud, and stained with blood.” The piratical look emphasized the fact that Sherman had fought a relentless, punitive war, cutting a swath across the Deep South on his famous March to the Sea. But, pointedly, parallel to Sherman’s army was a force of African-American men and women who had served as road builders, nurses, ambulance drivers, telegraph lineman and in other support roles. Dickey ably captures the shape and feel of the desperate battles Sherman’s forces waged, “scorching the Southern earth and issuing no quarter to those who stood in his way.” That black forces marched in support of Sherman’s victorious army emphasizes numerous points: that African-Americans were essential to the Union’s military success even if their contributions were long devalued; and that Sherman himself, though full of racist sentiments, contributed to the postwar push for civil rights through orders for the redistribution of seized plantation lands with self-determination for communities of newly freed slaves—a program later known as “40 acres and a mule” and promulgated by a commander who at the time was not “known for his sympathies for black people.”

A readable blend of military and political history; though not in the first rank of recent Civil War studies, a valuable addition to the literature.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-757-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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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

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