A vivid history of passionate protest.

A participant in a crucial anti-war demonstration recalls the tension and peril of the moment.

In May 1971, investigative editor Roberts, then a 19-year-old college student, joined in a huge protest against the Vietnam War that resulted in the arrest of more than 12,000 people, the author included. Making his book debut, Roberts offers a perceptive, thoroughly researched accounting of the intense, often divisive movement that led to an event marking 10 years from the time John F. Kennedy sent “a few hundred soldiers and advisers to South Vietnam.” By the time of the protest, more than 2 million Americans had served, and 275,000 still were deployed. Lyndon Johnson expanded the war, costing him the presidency, and Richard Nixon inherited the conflict, advised by his hawkish national security chief, Henry Kissinger. Protests, begun in 1965 with a teach-in at the University of Michigan, had grown year by year. By spring 1971, several organizations worked to strategize for “ambitious antiwar demonstrations”: the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, the Mayday Tribe, the National Peace Action Coalition, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The Nixon White House, the FBI, and Washington, D.C., police also needed to strategize, confronted with a conglomeration of “1930s-style radicals, back-to-the-land hippies, campus intellectuals, would-be revolutionaries, middle-class liberals, black-power evangelists,” and young radicals known as Yippies. Because the groups had no designated leader, law enforcement agencies found it difficult to keep track of who was who, where they were, and what level of violence they endorsed. Drawing on government and private archives, news articles, and many interviews with participants, Roberts creates a tense, brisk narrative covering 10 weeks that began in March with a bomb explosion in the U.S. Capitol and ended with lawyers’ efforts to free the thousands arrested. He offers sharply drawn portraits of key White House personnel and of many protestors, including Yippies Stew Albert and his girlfriend, Judy Gumbo; activists Rennie Davis and David Dellinger; and John Kerry, a prominent member of VVAW.

A vivid history of passionate protest.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-76672-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020


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


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

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005