The first full-length history of this epic Civil War battle in two decades delivers Homeric gore minus the sweep and poetry. Granted, Daniel (History/Murray State Univ.) isn't trying to be Homer. His densely annotated study is a solid, even remarkable piece of scholarly reconstruction that stresses historical preciseness over drama, right down to its frequent, often clinical descriptions of wounds. The human dimension of the first large-scale slaughter of Americans by Americans remains strangely and unfortunately muted, buried beneath an avalanche of facts and figures documenting troop strength and tactical maneuvers. Telling details, like a rebel soldier's recollection of shivering in his tent on the eve of battle as a band played ``Home Sweet Home'' in the nearby Union camp, are too few and far between. Daniel's explication of the egotism, self-interest, and insecurity that hindered the judgment of both Union and Confederate commanders and the politics that guided staffing and strategy textures the blow-by-blow tactical commentary with some human interest. The inclusion of so many minor figures, while confusing, also shorts in-depth analyses of major players like Union general Ulysses Grant, who remains remote. Daniel's major accomplishment is that he effectively dramatizes the chaos of war—the traffic jams, bungled orders, and terror-stricken confusion that constitute the ragged improvisation of battle. But Daniel too often fails to rise above that chaos, miring the reader in it as well. Stepping back more frequently to add analyses to the description would provide badly needed perspective and scope, making the account more accessible to novices who don't know a regiment from a brigade. Though he purports to settle differences among historians, Daniel's tone is closer to mediation than finality. Exhaustive but workmanlike, this will be of interest to academics and hard-core Civil War buffs. (maps, photos, not seen) (Book-of-the-Month Club/History Book Club selection)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-80375-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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