CHICKAMAUGA AND CHATTANOOGA

THE BATTLES THAT DOOMED THE CONFEDERACY

A flawed chronicle of the two 1863 Tennessee battles in the Civil War that fell on the heels of Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The War between the States, the true American epic, warrants a Homer to tell the tale, but Bowers is not in the least Homeric. The author, who also wrote Stonewall Jackson (1989), places far too much emphasis on the historical importance of these two battles. A native Tennessean, he has a natural interest in them, but the fact remains that Gettysburg and Vicksburg, not these later engagements, sounded the death knell for the Confederacy. Bowers does a decent job of profiling such generals as the Rebel eccentric Braxton Bragg, known for the fiery flatulence of both his temper and his digestive system (he had caught chronic Montezuma's Revenge during the Mexican War). He also paints good portraits of Union general William Starke Rosecrans (known by the sobriquet ``Old Rosey'') and the Confederate hotspur Nathan Bedford Forrest. Bowers's best writing is his description of General Grant's arrival at Chattanooga. Grant was the ``people's general'' whose plain, unassuming manner made him a hero as much as his victories on the battlefield. Bowers spends too much time on Chickamauga and too little on Chattanooga, which is a far more compelling story. He also does not serve the account well by inserting dubious dialogue by the major participants in the course of the narrative. Bowers's writing is stilted, repetitive, and clichÇ-ridden. Despite such limitations, Civil War buffs north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line will still find enough in this book not to be entirely disappointed.

Pub Date: May 31, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-016592-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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...

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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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