An essential work for anyone interested in the early days of abolitionism and the women’s movement in North America. (15...




A lively anthology tracing the emergence of the women’s-rights movement in the US during the turbulent antebellum period.

Sklar (History/SUNY Binghamton) provides a lengthy introductory essay tracing with vigor and clarity the manner in which, beginning in the 1830s, white and black women in the North began to become active in the abolitionist cause, inspired in many cases by the religious revivals sweeping the nation. While women in the movement at first focused their efforts upon emancipation, the intense criticism that greeted their activities gradually pushed some of them toward an advocacy of women’s rights as well. They discovered that they first had to defend their right to speak at all in a society in which women were expected to restrict their activities to a purely domestic sphere. At the forefront in articulating women’s right to speak and act on moral and political issues were Angelina and Sarah Grimke, the courageous daughters of a Southern slaveowner. During their influential speaking tour in 1837, the eloquent Grimkes asserted that they pleaded “not the cause of the slave only” but also “the cause of woman as a responsible moral being.” Their lectures served both to stimulate support for the abolitionist cause and to encourage other women to begin speaking about rights and responsibilities. It also aroused discomfort among some male abolitionists, concerned that arguments over women’s rights would diffuse moral outrage over slavery. There was, Sarah Grimke argued in a letter to a male colleague, no going back. “To close the doors now . . . would be a violation of our fundamental principle that man and woman are created equal and have the same duties and the same responsibilities as moral beings.” The 54 pieces collected here trace the gradual development of ideas about women’s rights, beginning with Angelina and Sarah, the growing tension that resulted, and the articulation of a separate women’s-rights movement in the early 1840s. The concluding section traces the gradual separation of the women’s movement from abolitionism in the 1850s.

An essential work for anyone interested in the early days of abolitionism and the women’s movement in North America. (15 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: July 18, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-22819-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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