A left-leaning but readable, comprehensive history of the political and cultural trends that continue to erode any sense of...

FAULT LINES

A HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES SINCE 1974

Two Princeton professors add to the burgeoning literature about a fractured America, based largely on their university lectures on the subject.

Kruse (One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, 2015, etc.) and Zelizer (The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society, 2015, etc.) organize their history around four principal fault lines: growing economic inequality, racial division, partisan polarization, and conflicts regarding gender and sexuality. In a clear, lively style, Kruse and Zelizer show how developments in these areas have divided the nation and made compromises for the common good more difficult. In coverage of the earlier years, the authors evenly distribute responsibility for the worsening conflicts. However, beginning with the genesis of the Obama administration, the narrative takes on an increasingly leftist slant as the authors minimize or omit the left's contributions to the widening divide, creating the impression that it was largely conservatives who were perpetuating an atmosphere of obstructionism and division. Conspicuously absent, for example, is any mention of intolerance and violence directed at conservative speakers on college campuses or of antifa thuggery generally. Alongside political and social divisions, the authors chronicle the fragmentation of American media, with three major TV networks and relatively sober newspapers of national stature replaced by cable TV, talk radio, and an infinite number of commentators on internet blogs and social media. As is well-known, this multiplicity of sources has led not to a better informed public but to the creation of partisan echo chambers that disagree even about fundamental facts, let alone their interpretation. The authors posit no overarching theories of how all this came about, nor do they offer a path forward to a better place. In discouraging detail, they lay out how short-sighted decisions and inflexible partisanship have placed a consensus on national identity and goals so far out of reach.

A left-leaning but readable, comprehensive history of the political and cultural trends that continue to erode any sense of American national unity.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-08866-3

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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