A deep-reaching study of a city in wartime, which Washingtonians and visitors, to say nothing of students of the Civil War,...




A skillful portrait of the nation’s capital as microcosm of a nation divided.

When newly elected President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, D.C., writes Winkle (History/Univ. of Nebraska; Abraham and Mary Lincoln, 2011, etc.), he came to a city that had a strong reputation as what one British abolitionist called “the chief seat of the American slave-trade.” Indeed, slavery persisted there even when Lincoln took office, and when, in December 1861, a Massachusetts congressman proposed its abolition, the debate dragged on for months as “opponents raised a sweep of objections.” The Confederacy, well aware that slave owners and sympathizers were abundant in the capital, longed to seize Washington; by the end of the war, under Lincoln’s orders, it was probably the most heavily fortified city in the world, ringed by dozens of forts and artillery emplacements—and even so, the target of Rebel forays. Lincoln’s experiment in siege craft did not have to be applied to other cities, but he tested other innovations there, including the suspension of habeas corpus and the use of federal troops to maintain order. Moreover, Winkle notes in a particularly timely passage, concerns for Lincoln’s safety were so pressing that federal officials embarked on a secret, not strictly legal program of spying on presumed opponents, potential assassins and other conspirators. Lincoln’s years in the city coincided, necessarily, with the establishment of the great national cemetery at Arlington and other hallowed sites in the capital, while he himself established certain protocols, such as visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals, in which he might have laid eyes on Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman. By the end of the war, Lincoln and his lieutenants had converted Washington from a sleepy Southern town into one that was “increasingly northern in outlook and character.”

A deep-reaching study of a city in wartime, which Washingtonians and visitors, to say nothing of students of the Civil War, will find to be of great interest.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-08155-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet