A stirring adventure, smoothly recounted.

LAST FLAG DOWN

THE EPIC JOURNEY OF THE LAST CONFEDERATE WARSHIP

The story of Confederate raider Shenandoah, which preyed on Yankee shipping in an epic round-the-world voyage.

Baldwin, a descendant of the executive officer who left a detailed log of that voyage, teams with Pulitzer Prize winner Powers (Mark Twain, 2005, etc.) to tell the Shenandoah’s story. While their account covers essentially the same territory as Lynn Schooler’s The Last Shot (2005), they focus on Baldwin’s ancestor, Lieutenant Conway Whittle. In London, Whittle boarded Sea King, a steam-and-sail clipper that had set a record for a passage to China, He sailed to the Madeiras, where he met his fellow officers and Captain James Waddell, evidently a deeply troubled, uncommunicative man who distrusted his subordinates. The ship was renamed Shenandoah, provisioned and armed with cannon and commissioned as a Confederate warship. Her mission: to prey on U.S. commerce and weaken the federals’ ability to wage war. Shenandoah’s crew was recruited from captured ships, choosing service with the C.S.A. over being held prisoner. The authors paint Whittle as a romantic hero of the Old South, obsessed with honor and eager to prevent his native land from falling prey to northern aggression. To that end, the raider attacked merchantmen and whalers from the Atlantic to the Bering Sea, where she captured or sank more than three dozen whalers before Waddell was convinced to cease operations by reports that the war was over. Shenandoah then made her final run back to England, dodging U.S. warships and struggling to keep her crew dedicated to a suddenly pointless mission. Whittle, a southern gentleman to the end, declined a chance to escape from his ship as she lay in the Liverpool docks while British officials decided whether to turn her crew over to U.S. authorities aiming to try them for piracy. In the end, the Brits set them all free.

A stirring adventure, smoothly recounted.

Pub Date: May 15, 2007

ISBN: 0-307-23655-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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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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