Even Civil War buffs should find this graphic adaptation engaging, provocative and deftly nuanced.

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THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS

A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION

Where the format might lead some readers to anticipate a simplified primer, this second collaboration by Hennessey and McConnell (The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, 2008) again finds them probing the implications of history through incisive analysis and compelling art.

What the narrative terms “probably the most famous and influential speech in American history,” “just 271 words in length and requiring no more than a few minutes to recite out loud,” might not initially seem like enough of a hook for such an expansive examination. Yet practically every one of those words proves significant, as the scope of the book extends from the American Revolution to the present day, casting the Civil War as tragic and transformative but likely inevitable as well. It finds the country’s two most revered and renowned documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—at odds with each other, as the equality celebrated in the former (though the degree to which that equality was intended to extend remains open to interpretation) finds itself on a collision course with the rights of the states (and distrust of a strong central government, after the tyranny of England) inherent in the latter. Add the profound differences between the North and South—in demographics, climate, economy, political orientation—and the intensification of those with the passage of time, and you’ve got an explosion waiting to happen. Resisting the temptation to reduce the conflict to a morality play—the evil of slavery vs. the ideal of emancipation (though there is that)—or to make President Abraham Lincoln more enlightened on race relations than a man of his time was likely to be—the authors combine historical depth with art that also finds shades of gray amid the black and white.

Even Civil War buffs should find this graphic adaptation engaging, provocative and deftly nuanced.

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-196976-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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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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