Heartfelt but taxing chronicle of the lives of five fraternity brothers from their 60's matriculation at USC-Berkeley to their present middle age. The modern prototype for freelance journalist Colton's (Sports Illustrated, New York Times Magazine, etc.) beefy tome could be Mary McCarthy's The Group. But Colton is working here with five men (including himself) whose backgrounds (white, middle-class, Californian) and interests (athletics, alcohol, sex) are so devoid of contrast that they demand painstaking study until each emerges as an individual—and that only far into the narrative. Colton is one of the most clearly delineated: A baseball natural since boyhood, he is signed by the Phillies and pitches minor league for six years, ascending briefly to the majors. His frank talk of life on the road while his marriage crumbles is captivating. Fellow Goat (Pi Kappa Alpha brother) Ron Vaughan is the other immediately distinctive character. Though one-eighth black, he joins the whites-only fraternity, and, though a gifted football player on scholarship, he is shy and reclusive, his true desire to become an architect. By his 30s, Ron has given away all his possessions and has wandered for years in a state of mental confusion. As the Goat brothers age, they grow both more individuated and more similar. Only one, Jim van Hoften, manages a stable family and career, finally becoming an astronaut. The rest have their hopes for self-improvement dashed by compulsive philandering, inability to form intimate partnerships, Type-A behavior, and binge drinking. And only Colton himself seems to have any self-insight: The others, except perhaps van Hoften, endlessly repeat the same behavior, hoping for new results. A sometimes arduous climb with Colton's goats to scale his nearly quarter-million-word mountain, but some compelling views along the way—and likely to receive attention for its baby- boomer focus. (B&w photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-24407-X

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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