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Written in academic prose, this book, which shows Jefferson to be a man of his times, brilliant yet flawed, will appeal...

Just how revolutionary and radical was Thomas Jefferson?

Veritas Radio Network's Constitution Hour host Gutzman (History/Western Connecticut State Univ.; James Madison and the Making of America, 2012, etc.) begins his provocative book with a rather bold statement: “Jefferson’s influence on American political history outstrips that of any other figure.” He admits Franklin Roosevelt rivaled Jefferson, but Washington and Lincoln? Gutzman lays out his case in five footnote-laden chapters that sometimes drag. Federalism receives most of the author’s attention, taking up a third of the book. He admires Jefferson’s long-standing defense of states’ rights as they relate to their relationship with the central government. He features lots of back and forth arguing with Jefferson scholars over matters of interpretation, and he feels they’ve especially “distorted history” in arguing that federalism was really not that “important” to Jefferson. Jefferson “considered liberty of conscience to be the basis of all other freedom.” While establishing the University of Virginia—another subject Gutzman examines in detail—Jefferson was adamant that it should be secular and that all students should be able to explore their religious inquiries without restrictions—except blacks, who were not allowed to attend. Gutzman admits Jefferson “erred” in his views on race; Jefferson thought blacks “inferior,” even disliked them and, although unjust, refused to condemn slavery. He advocated colonization; they could be “created equal” as long as they lived somewhere else. He was all for shipping them overseas, perhaps Liberia. He was adverse to “racial mixture” but, sadly, not adverse to having children with Sally Hemings, one of his female slaves. As for Native Americans, Jefferson believed they were violent, the equals of whites, and needed educating. His policies encouraging taking their land for agricultural use—Gutzman notes that Lewis and Clark helped with that—set the stage for Andrew Jackson's removal policy.

Written in academic prose, this book, which shows Jefferson to be a man of his times, brilliant yet flawed, will appeal primarily to scholars.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-01080-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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