KEEPING FAITH

MEMOIRS OF A PRESIDENT

We came to Washington as outsiders and never appreciably changed this status." (When Bert Lance was under attack, no one rallied round.) He discussed virtually everything with Rosalynn, who had "strong opinions of her own." (Out of one of their discussions came the Camp David peace initiative.) "It seemed that Congress had an insatiable desire for consultation, which, despite all our efforts, we were never able to meet." (But—ruefully—to gain Senator Hayakawa's support for the Panama Canal treaties, Carter read his book on semantics overnight and promised to consult him on Africa.) . . . Altogether, Carter's report on his presidency is an unsurprising amalgam of folksiness, methodical notetaking, and selective recollection. The high point is his daily log of the Camp David negotiations, which also brings a shrewd, "thankful" observation on the two principals' contrasting styles: "In Sadat's case, the leader was much more forthcoming than his chief advisers, and in Begin's case, the advisers were much more inclined to work out difficult problems than their leader." ("I would draft a proposal I considered reasonable, take it to Sadat for quick approval, and then spend hours or days working on the same point with the Israeli delegation.") The struggle for ratification of the Panama Canal treaties is tellingly detailed as welL On human rights, on energy, on Salt II, Carter restates his positions and attempts to rebut criticism. He is regretful that he compromised at all on the water projects; caustic generally about "special interest lobbies'; critical of Kennedy on health insurance; sorry that the cabinet firings weren't handled better; and supportive of brother Billy. Except for a late, election-year reference to inflation, he has nothing to say about the economy. As regards the hostage crisis—including the decision to adroit the Shah—he is far less candid than Hamilton Jordan. (Pre-crisis, there's some pique at US ambassador Sullivan's divergent stance.) If anything, Carter seems indeed to have been out-of-his-element—conscious of how his background differed from House leader Tip O'Neill's, for instance, and reliant on family socializing to bridge the gap. lt's straightforwardly informative, in an unexciting way—and obliquely revealing.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 1982

ISBN: 1557283303

Page Count: 652

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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