ENCOUNTERS IN THE NEW WORLD

A HISTORY IN DOCUMENTS

Whether drawn by curiosity or compelled by assignments, students of American history will find plenty of chew on in this meaty, heavily illustrated entry in the new Pages from History series. Lepore gathers extracts from letters, books, journals, sermons, advertisements, prophecies, folktales, and news reports generated by the meetings of New World and Old, chronicling the period from 1492—1789, when the autobiography of ex-slave Olaudah Equiano was published. The author opens with a discussion of what primary sources are and how to interpret them, considers each theater of contact in turn from the Caribbean islands to New England, shoehorns in a chapter on the African slave trade, and links all of her passages with analytical background notes. Beginning with a full-color section, the pictures are all, roughly, contemporary, heavy on maps that chart the world’s expansion in the European consciousness and including often fanciful scenes that in many cases are all that is left of vanished Native American cultures. Lepore dismisses connections between Asia and the Americas in a few words, and treats the Melungeon claims of descent from precolonial Turkish and African settlers in North America not at all. At her best, as when she tellingly pairs Cortez’s report of a first meeting with Montezuma with a Aztecan account, she opens windows on the different agendas and mutual incomprehension that so often turned peaceful contact into wholesale devastation. She draws from a host of hard-to-find sources, and creates a ghastly, compelling picture of one of human history’s pivotal moments. (notes, index not seen, b&w illustrations, maps, chronology, further reading) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 1999

ISBN: 0-19-510513-3

Page Count: 175

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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MY BRIDGES OF HOPE

SEARCHING FOR LIFE AND LOVE AFTER AUSCHWITZ

In a sequel to the well-received I Have Lived a Thousand Years (1997, not reviewed), Bitton-Jackson writes of her life as Elli Friedmann in 1945, when she, her brother, and mother were liberated from Auschwitz and sent back to their former home in Czechoslovakia. Finding only a shell of the place they had known, they struggled to rebuild some semblance of life and waited for the return of Elli’s father. When they realized he was gone for good, their only hope through all their efforts was the prospect of obtaining papers that would allow them to emigrate to America. Through the long years that they waited, Elli found work teaching, and helping other Jews escape to Palestine, a dangerous and illegal undertaking. When they finally arrived in New York City, relatives welcomed them; an epilogue collapses most of the author’s adult life into a few paragraphs so readers will know the directions her life took. Interesting and inspiring, this story makes painfully clear how the fight to survive extended well beyond the war years; the discomforts and obstacles the author faced and articulates in such riveting detail will make readers squirm at the security and ease of their own lives. (Memoir. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-82026-7

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

SAGE OF THE SUPREME COURT

This entry in the Oxford Portraits series is both very good and very useful. White presents a clear biography of the Supreme Court justice who served in the Civil War, studied law, and lived long in the shadow of his famous writer father of the same name. By the time he came to the Supreme Court, he was already 60 years old, but served for three decades more. White creates a vivid portrait of this scholarly and philosophical legal thinker while including rich details of his intellectual but reserved home life and his affectionate flirtations with many women. More than that, readers will absorb a history of the development of legal education, the growth of the Supreme Court, and how law unfolds as a study and a discipline. White is especially felicitous in explaining how the elegance of Holmes’s prose occasionally obscured the legal point he was making. Quotations from Holmes’s writing and picture captions with further details add to the story, and not the least of its accomplishments is to show a man who began the greatest of his career challenges when he was already perceived of as old. Excellent. (chronology, further reading, index) (Biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1999

ISBN: 0-19-511667-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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