A predictable right-wing slant on American history.




Schweikart (History/Univ. of Dayton; What Would the Founders Say?: A Patriot’s Answers to America’s Most Pressing Problems, 2011, etc.) and Dougherty (co-author: The Patriot’s History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American, 2011) pen a conservative paean to American exceptionalism.

In 2004, Schweikart published A Patriot’s History of the United States (co-authored with Michael Allen) as a conservative response to Howard Zinn’s bestselling A People’s History of the United States. This similarly titled book has a narrower focus, filtering a half-century of American history—from 1898 to 1945—through a right-wing lens. The authors focus on American involvement in both World Wars and how American virtues, particularly free-market capitalism, helped to win them. An overarching theme is the idea of American exceptionalism, that the United States is a “shining city upon a hill” above all others. The book is aimed at a hard-core Republican audience, so while it is extensively sourced and footnoted, it is steeped in conservative dogma. The authors label progressivism as “one of the most destructive forces since slavery” and Woodrow Wilson as a “self-appointed messiah,” and the phrase “economic justice” appears only in ironic quotation marks. The authors even paint Warren G. Harding, consistently ranked by many historians as one of the worst presidents in American history, as a thoughtful and capable leader. They also discount criticism of Japanese-American internment during World War II, implying that it was justified by FBI-gathered evidence—though they grudgingly note that “Japanese-Americans’ life in the camps was no picnic.”

A predictable right-wing slant on American history.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59523-089-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sentinel

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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