This book, based on a documentary film that will air on PBS stations later this year, is an exceptionally vivid study of Irish immigration from the American Revolution to the present. According to Miller (Emigrants and Exiles, 1985) and documentary filmmaker Wagner, Irish emigration was first prompted in the 17th and 18th centuries by the anti-Catholic Penal Laws that, among other injustices, prevented Irish men and women from purchasing or inheriting land, voting, or holding political office. But the famine of 184550 was the beginning of mass immigration. During this time 500,000 Irish were evicted from their houses by landlords seeking to enlarge their holdings at the expense of their tenants. As the authors graphically describe it, ``thousands of peasants starved to death in their cabins or by the roadsides, their mouths stained green by the grass they had eaten in a vain attempt to stay alive.'' During this period, more than 1,000,000 died as a result of the famine and more than 2,500,000 emigrated to America. Here they found relative prosperity (at least, in contrast to the famine conditions of Ireland) and urged their countrymen to emigrate. They assimilated by becoming laborers: building canals, railroads, and bridges. During the Civil War more than 150,000 joined the Union Army. After the war ``No Irish Need Apply'' signs were still common, but Irish immigrants found that hard work and voting a Democratic ticket could alter the status quo in their favor. Out of this era came colorful politicians like Al Smith in New York and Democratic bosses such as Chicago's ``Bathhouse John'' Coughlin and Boston's John ``Honey Fitz'' Fitzgerald, whose grandson, John F. Kennedy, would become the first Irish Catholic president. Generously illustrated with remarkable photographs, this is an illuminating examination of a subject that is frequently misunderstood or misrepresented, and that remains current—in new waves of Irish emigrants—to this very day.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-880216-25-6

Page Count: 132

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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