A house divided against itself: Heineman yokes the impressive force of his scholarship to a wobbly cart of partisan...

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PUT YOUR BODIES UPON THE WHEELS

STUDENT REVOLT IN THE 1960S

A chronicle of the counterculture of the 1960s, marked simultaneously by crystalline scholarship and utter distaste for its subject matter.

Heineman (God Is a Conservative, not reviewed) writes in a formal, lucid manner and offers a thorough account of the cultural watersheds and popular movements we think of as “the ’60s.” As his title indicates, he tries to address the human involvement (and costs) of such phenomena as the SDS and the Black Panthers and, to this end, he’s done exhaustive primary-source research and offers much information (though arguably, little new information) on Mark Rudd, Abbie Hoffman, et al. The result is a clear chronological overview of the relationship between particular radical groups and larger social dynamics, focusing on flashpoints like the escalation of the Vietnam War (a conflict fought, Heineman notes, by impoverished youth who did not enjoy the student deferments of their more privileged peers) and the decline of LBJ’s “War on Poverty.” And yet the author undermines his own narrative’s sober qualities with a consistent undercurrent of paranoid sensationalism, exemplified by his repeated references to “red diaper babies” and his frequent reduction of all 1960s-era radical pursuits to the common goals of interracial sex and drug abuse. Although Heineman pursues a powerful thesis (viz., how New Left excess doomed the post–New Deal Democratic alliances), his insistence on discrediting the era’s youth culture allows no consideration of the popular anguish caused by Vietnam and Southern civil-rights strife. A measured hysteria (if such a thing exists) pervades this work, with avuncular outrage implied toward any reader who has ever taken an enjoyable toke or been seduced by cultures beyond the mainstream. Such a stance would seem hilariously dated were the scholarship on display not so solid, and the authorial hurt so sincere.

A house divided against itself: Heineman yokes the impressive force of his scholarship to a wobbly cart of partisan invective.

Pub Date: May 4, 2001

ISBN: 1-56663-351-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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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