An easy read apparently aimed at coin collectors, though history trivia buffs will also find plenty of material.



Breezy collection of the stories behind the 50 commemorative quarters, one for each state, now making their way from the U.S. Mint into circulation.

Veteran anthologist Noles (Hearts of Dixie: Fifty Alabamians and the State They Called Home, 2004, etc.) provides 50 short essays on the images that appear on the quarters’ obverse sides. (An identical portrait of Washington graces the fronts.) Canada provided the inspiration in 1991, when it released 12 quarters dedicated to the 12 Canadian provinces. They were so popular and lucrative that U.S. coin collectors began pressuring their representatives to make U.S. state versions. Noles describes the political maneuvering in a numbingly detailed prologue readers will do well to skip, along with the fulsome foreword by Congressman Mike Castle. The coins began appearing in 1999 in the order in which each state joined the nation, from Delaware (1787) to Hawaii (1959), and the essays follow this sequence. The Delaware quarter features Caesar Rodney on a galloping horse; Noles explains that this Revolutionary War patriot, although ill, rode 80 miles to Philadelphia in 1776 to swing Delaware’s vote in favor of independence. The peach on Georgia’s coin inspires a history of peach agriculture in that state plus the essential trivia nugget: Georgia ranks only third in U.S. peach production; it’s first in peanuts and pecans. The single Native American gracing these coins is Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I (1758–1819), whose impressive accomplishments Noles recounts. For those who make lists, four state coins feature ships (not including New Jersey’s reproduction of Washington crossing the Delaware); four show horses (two with riders) and three portray the American bison (Montana’s depicts only the skull). Most chapters devote a few paragraphs to each state’s competition for the winning design, so readers will encounter descriptions of the losing designs as well as each governor’s less-than-deathless prose as he or she announces the winner.

An easy read apparently aimed at coin collectors, though history trivia buffs will also find plenty of material.

Pub Date: May 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-306-81578-2

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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