A handy volume that efficiently covers all the essentials.




A Civil War specialist’s nutshell assessment of a famously dysfunctional relationship.

In the summer of 1862 a frustrated senator urged Abraham Lincoln to relieve Gen. George McClellan from command, begging the president to replace the Little Napoleon “with anybody.” Lincoln was well-acquainted with the general’s flaws—his proclivity for secrecy, his tendency to micromanage, his constant demands for more troops, his contemptuous treatment of superiors in the government and officers under him and, most of all, his reluctance to aggressively pursue Lee’s army—and his saintly patience was dwindling. At the war’s outset, McClellan’s appointment made sense. The decrepitude of the old Mexican War hero Winfield Scott and the defection of many of the nation’s top officers to the Confederacy left a vacuum the remarkably young McClellan easily filled thanks to his exceptional training, distinguished service in Mexico and victories in several early skirmishes in Western Virginia. He quickly set about drilling and refurbishing the army, secured a teetering capital against attack, restored confidence and inspired devotion from his troops. The strutting general saw himself as the Union’s savior, floating above and deeply resenting the filthy political scrum. As superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad before the war, the genteel, broadly educated, socially adept McClellan had employed Lincoln as occasional legal counsel. He neither liked nor respected the unsophisticated prairie lawyer, a feeling he never abandoned. Lincoln finally dismissed McClellan in November 1862, making the general the immediate frontrunner for the bitterly divided Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. McClellan’s landslide 1864 electoral defeat ended his tortured connection to Lincoln. Explaining without dwelling on McClellan’s deficiencies in the field, Waugh (One Man Great Enough: Abraham Lincoln’s Road to Civil War, 2007, etc.) neatly focuses on the general’s tragic inability to subordinate himself to a man whose greatness he never understood.

A handy volume that efficiently covers all the essentials.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-230-61349-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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