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...


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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