The research seems sound enough, but one-dimensional characters and consistently clumsy prose doom this first of a series....




Chunky, clunky debut novel about a one-time slave who fights Confederates, injustice, ignorance, racism, Native Americans, whatever—all superheroically.

Larger than life, that’s Sergeant Major Nate Gordon of the Tenth US Negro Cavalry. Physically, he’s imposing. Metaphorically, he doesn’t lose an inch. It’s 1866, and the bitter, bloody War Between the States has finally wound down. Nate, once a desperate runaway, has performed brilliantly as a Union soldier and was denied a commission solely on the basis of color. The vagaries of discrimination aside, Nate loves the army. Now, he’s on detached service, charged with recruiting for the recently formed Ninth US Negro Cavalry. Setting about the task in his customary brisk and efficient manner, he accomplishes wonders, overcoming obstacles that would daunt a lesser man. Such as: corrupt officers, resentful brothers-in-arms, a rabble of ex-rebels who know in their bones that the Emancipation Proclamation was not merely misconceived but misbegotten. Unflappable Nate copes with everything from an ugly mutiny to a rampant black market. Back with the Tenth, he prepares for his new role as Indian fighter. In Cheyenne country, he meets the Dog Soldiers, led by the warrior chief Cougar Eyes, a fierce and implacable enemy, but one from whom he earns grudging admiration and a respectful nickname: Buffalo Gordon he is from that time forward. He also meets the irresistible Cara, half-Mexican, half-Indian, all winsome female, for whom he falls head over heels. Five-hundred-plus pages of murder, betrayal, endless victories, occasional setbacks, ample servings of graphic sex, and at the end Nate’s still Nate, unchanged and in fact immutable. That’s because he was perfect to begin with.

The research seems sound enough, but one-dimensional characters and consistently clumsy prose doom this first of a series. There may be a story worth telling here, but the grandson of Sinclair Lewis hasn’t found it yet.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-87376-X

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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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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