A passionate love letter to a city and era that have long since faded away.




Strausbaugh (City of Sedition: The History of New York During the Civil War, 2016, etc.) presents a panoramic view of a great city at the height of its power.

In 1940, New York City was a demographic and cultural colossus; far more than today, what happened there mattered. It was the largest city in the world, its port was the busiest in the world, it employed more workers in manufacturing than any other city, and it was the nation's hub for merchandising, finance, media, theater, and fashion. The author, an expert on the history of New York, creates a suitably sprawling portrait of the city and its residents during the first half of the 20th century. Then, as now, it was a city of immigrants; it sometimes seems as though nearly everyone who lived there was, or was the child of, immigrants from central Europe with Anglicized names. In Strausbaugh’s portrayal, Nazi and communist spies, mobsters and politicos rub elbows with Eleanor Roosevelt, zoot suiters, and bobby-soxers, Rosie the Riveter, war profiteers, and draft resisters, with the rumbustious mayor Fiorello LaGuardia roaring around throughout. Short chapters move the presentation briskly along; if one topic fails to engage, another will be along momentarily. The rapid pacing seems to mimic the frenetic energy of the city, while the familiar flow of the era's national and world events provides an orderly structure to the narrative. The parade of colorful anecdotes and character sketches, presented in a brash and sometimes sassy style, makes this an entertaining read. The author makes no claims to insightful social or historical revelation; the book is a pleasant visit to a confident and powerful city helping to lead its nation to victory in a global conflict, conducted by a witty and knowledgeable guide.

A passionate love letter to a city and era that have long since faded away.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4555-6748-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet