A history of four regiments of young, independent, feisty frontiersmen from Wisconsin and Indiana, who became a proud force fighting bravely and unwaveringly in bloody Civil War battles, and winning immortal fame as the Iron Brigade. Herdegen (director, Institute for Civil War Studies/Carroll College; In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg, not reviewed) takes us into the ranks of these volunteers who signed up to defend the Union in the days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. Drawing on the men's letters, diaries, and published memoirs, Herdegen follows them from their early days together through four bloody years of war. General John Gibbon, a West Point graduate, imposed a hard, exhausting training program on the recruits, earning the men's hatred. Their resentment, though, would later turn to respect as he led them through a succession of terrible battles. The men's poignant letters home to loved ones are especially fascinating, offering vivid descriptions of camp life and battle, relating such experiences as foraging in Virginia among hostile civilians and being cheered by Union sympathizers in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The men express profound loyalty for some commanders and hatred for other, inept officers. They speak repeatedly of the nature of duty, patriotism, and brotherly love, and their words are made more moving by the realization that these soldiers were, as they wrote, struggling to face the likelihood of death without breaking down. They were cited at Second Bull Run for holding a strategic position ``like iron'' while suffering heavy casualties; they were cited for bravery at South Mountain, Antietam, and Gettysburg. Proportionally, the Iron Brigade suffered more battlefield deaths than any other Union force. (For more on Civil War soldiers, see James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades, p. 42.) A colorful and skillful record of the lives of the men in the ranks of a famous brigade, who served and saved the Union at great sacrifice in a dark time. (12 b&w photos, 5 maps, table, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-253-33221-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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