Important historical points that would glow brightly if illuminated by more narrative fire.

AMERICAN GENESIS

THE EVOLUTION CONTROVERSIES FROM SCOPES TO CREATION SCIENCE

Moran (History/Univ. of Kansas; The Scopes Trial, 2002, etc.) provides a scholarly look at the antievolution “impulse,” focusing on the interactions of the social forces that animated, propelled and changed it.

The author employs an old-fashioned historiography—introduction, clearly stated thesis, chapters devoted to each aspect of the thesis, a generally impersonal tone, scholarly diction—but he does highlight some important aspects of the controversies that have raged since the Scopes Trial of 1925. After some personal comments about his arrival to teach in Kansas and his alarm about that state’s decision about the teaching of evolution, he sketches the career of Charles Darwin and shows how Darwin’s revolutionary work was received both here and abroad. He notes the importance of women in the controversies here and shows how they became more deeply involved when the debate shifted to the public-school curriculum. He looks, too, at the involvement of evangelicals and summarizes the positions of notables like Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson and J. Franklyn Norris. Regionalism, he argues, was (and remains) an important factor. In some ways the South has felt once again invaded by the North, this time by rivers of scorn that have flowed from the pens of many Northern journalists. Moran examines how evolution threatened not just the “young earthers” who accepted Genesis as history but also those who believed in the divinity of Jesus. Race has always been a factor, and the author notes the large percentage of African-Americans who believe in the literal truth of the Bible; he also explains how many were disturbed by the ape imagery that often accompanied debates about evolution. Moran ends with the continuing difficulties that science teachers and students face in American classrooms, where the issue remains prominent and divisive.

Important historical points that would glow brightly if illuminated by more narrative fire.

Pub Date: March 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-19-518349-8

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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