A profound demonstration of what needs to be recognized, reconciled and forgiven if current crises are to be overcome.

HAITI

THE AFTERSHOCKS OF HISTORY

A vigorous retelling of Haiti's history intended to revive the promise of the world's first black-led republic.

This is not a story of the decline of a small nation, but an inspiring account of the struggle against adversity for freedom and independence. Dubois (History and French Studies/Duke Univ.; Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France, 2010, etc.) narrates the story of Toussaint Louverture’s leadership of the slave population of France's most profitable colony to independence in 1791, emancipation in 1793 and recognition by the government in 1794. The author also examines how Napoleon reversed independence and sent an army that was crushed in 1804 by Louverture and his collaborators and successors; how the Congress of Vienna secretly gave France the right to invade the country; and how Haiti was excluded from the Monroe Doctrine. Haiti was free, but a free country established by former black slaves—they had transgressed an order based not only on plantation slavery, but also racism. Invasion, blockade and isolation were used to deny Haitians their place among the free nations of the world; the United States did not recognize the country until Abraham Lincoln became president in 1860. Haiti endured until the U.S. Marines were sent to steal the country's gold and occupy the island in 1915. Franklin Roosevelt took credit for rewriting the constitution, and corporate-owned plantation-based production was reintroduced to replace the family-based system of land tenure. As Dubois writes, “the occupation propelled Haiti's political system backward by a century,” and the country has not been permitted to recover to the present.

A profound demonstration of what needs to be recognized, reconciled and forgiven if current crises are to be overcome.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9335-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

1776

A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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