Plodding narrative and slack writing plague this account of the fierce 1870s events that set the stage for the legends surrounding Billy the Kid. Hoping, in part, to discern the true character of William Henry Bonney, Jacobsen, a New Mexico assistant attorney general, relates the complicated circumstances and events comprising the Lincoln County War. Billy the Kid was one of the Regulators, a gang of ruffians (or, Jacobsen asks, were they concerned citizens?) aiding an English businessman, John Tunstall, in his feud with The House, the local political machine. Founded by Lawrence Murphy in 1873, The House was a store and a commodities brokerage that owned the only federal contracts within 200 miles. It was also a bank that protected its own monopoly, and Murphy was also the local probate judge. Tunstall, all of 24, dared to challenge The House by establishing his own ``store'' and ranch. He went into business with Alexander McSween, a former House attorney who'd been recently fired in a squabble over the estate of Murphy's late partner. Battle was joined in the courts, on the range, and in petty street fights. Both sides enlisted quasi-legal posses to harass and ``attach'' property belonging to the opposition; one such posse killed Tunstall in February 1878 while repossessing his ranch and cattle. The Regulators, working for McSween, retaliated by occupying the town of Lincoln. The ensuing Five Days' Battle, in which US Army troops supported The House, resulted in McSween's death in a hail of gunfire. Jacobsen follows the story through contemporary news accounts, court proceedings, and correspondence up to 1881, when Billy the Kid was killed by avaricious Sheriff Pat Garrett. Perceptive, methodical, and dull. (28 photos & 2 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8032-2576-8

Page Count: 470

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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