A significant contribution to the history of gender in the US. (illustrations, not seen)



A scholarly study of women's participation in one of the great (and forgotten) American endeavors of the 19th century.

Historians have gradually been recovering the record of women's public activism in the US. But one of the greatest social service institutions in the nation's past, the Civil War–era United States Sanitary Commission (with its 7,000 affiliated soldiers’ aid societies in which women played a central role) has remained largely unknown. Giesberg not only reminds us of the Commission's part in the war effort of the 1860s but argues, on the whole successfully, that it is the missing link in the awakening of women's participation in American public life. Not surprisingly, men ran the Commission's national organization—and created the ideological template by which it has been recalled and interpreted ever since. But women commanded its local branches. And, as Giesberg argues, recovering the affiliates' history fills in a gap in the history of the Civil War itself. Struggling to provide food and clothing to soldiers and maintain their families while pushing against a culture of domesticity, benevolence, and conventional self-segregation, thousands of women gained new experience through the politics necessary to help their fighting men and thus took another step toward their emancipation and integration into the nation's larger life. It was not easy, and much divided them. Giesberg shows how such unsung women as Louisa Lee Schuyler, Abigail Williams May, and Mary Livermore helped lay the groundwork for the further broadening of women's activism in the Progressive era. This argument will be controversial among those to point to other sources of the women's rights movement, but it is plausible—and surely the details of the story are important in themselves.

A significant contribution to the history of gender in the US. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 21, 2000

ISBN: 1-55553-434-1

Page Count: 229

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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