A fresh, enlightening look at American society as it reluctantly worked its way into being a world power—most valuable to...



The latest installment of the Library of Congress’ series of illustrated histories and timelines, this one focusing on World War I.

Beginning in 1912, Wagner (The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War, 2011, etc.), a senior writer/editor at the LOC Publishing Office, describes the isolationism gripping the United States; many citizens, experiencing a wave of societal changes, were distrustful of a standing army. With the speedy growth of invention—e.g., electricity, cars, planes, telephones, moving pictures—income inequality and labor relations exacerbated anger and friction. The war wasn’t much of a surprise after the Balkan Wars exposed interference from both Turkey and Russia, making Austria-Hungary nervous. America faced her own threats. The Mexican Revolution spilled over into Texas, raising demands that Wilson send in troops. Here, as she does throughout, Wagner depicts events not often given sufficient coverage in history books. Mexico pushed us toward war, with lots of prodding from Germany, and Japan was taking its turn saber-rattling in the Pacific. Many pacifist Americans spoke out against the war, including Jane Addams, Henry Ford, and Sen. Robert La Follette. When war did break out, Americans rushed to send aid but refused to join. Wilson and Congress, fearing a fifth column, passed the Espionage Act in 1917, which quickly exposed poor intelligence services that relied on informers and vigilantes convicting the innocent. Germany’s decision to return to unrestricted U-boat warfare in 1917 reminded Americans of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. But the tipping point was the Zimmerman telegram, which proposed an alliance between Germany and Mexico. The author elaborates on how little help the U.S. provided at first; lack of equipment, the need for conscription, and lack of boats to transport them were only parts of the problem. The troops were trained, finally, but not in methods useful in the trenches.

A fresh, enlightening look at American society as it reluctantly worked its way into being a world power—most valuable to historians and sociologists.

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62040-982-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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