Zeskind offers a well-placed warning that the racist right still has plenty of causes left, many wrapped up in the...




A densely detailed account of the racist right in the last half of the 20th century.

Civil-rights activist Zeskind writes that he first encountered the white supremacist/nationalist movement in the South a quarter-century ago and immediately regarded it not as the lunatic fringe but merely the farther edges of the rising conservative movement. “I believed that racists could turn the wheels of history as well as antiracists could,” he writes matter-of-factly. Certainly some of the successes of the 1980s—when David Duke (who “rarely missed an opportunity to line his own pockets”), Bo Gritz (who imagined that Zionists ruled the world, with George H.W. Bush as their king), the Christian Identity movement and assorted other haters came to prominence—suggest that Zeskind’s concern was well-founded. However, many of the hard-core members of the right had a habit of splintering into factions whenever an alliance threatened to form, so that the ultrarightist contingent could never quite get it together. For instance, Willis Carto, a pioneer of the modern supremacist movement at the center of Zeskind’s narrative, could not abide Pat Robertson, though he might have been a natural partner on paper, since Robertson was pro-Israel. Certainly Carto’s reluctant endorsement when Robertson ran for president in 1988 was nothing Robertson welcomed—of Carto’s tabloid The Spotlight, he said, “one of the most rabid, vicious publications and unfortunately a number of well-meaning Christians think that it is the truth and buy it.” The heavily armed Bible-thumpers and aging skinheads who made up the racist right’s constituency overthrew Carto, but they never found a spokesperson to take his place—though in his Homeric catalog the author identifies plenty of other activists on the supremacist scene.

Zeskind offers a well-placed warning that the racist right still has plenty of causes left, many wrapped up in the long-simmering nativist, anti-immigration movement. Stay tuned.

Pub Date: May 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-10903-5

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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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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