Some rare historical delicacies, but Caldwell proves better at listing dates and names than at weaving a compelling...

NEW YORK NIGHT

THE MYSTIQUE AND ITS HISTORY

A fitfully told history of New York night life.

Caldwell (A Short History of Rudeness, 1999) leads us from New York's first days as a wood fort at the foot of Manhattan through its inexorable migration uptown, as the city’s early inhabitants pushed back woodland and streams to forge the concrete neon-lit metropolis of today. He shows that even in its earliest days, the city's nightlife was never for the faint-hearted, from its back-alley, bare-knuckle prize-fighting to cockfighting and rat-baiting. The author traces the city's metamorphosis from a grimy, backwoods settlement where, in 1834, one could be fined for letting one's pig roam the streets without a nose ring, through the glory days of gilded nightclubs like the El Morocco and the Stork Club. We follow New York's development as an urban center, witnessing the arrival of the first subway trains, telephones, streetlights and ever-ascending skyscrapers. Caldwell provides facts, figures, statistics and personal stories aplenty. There's Caroline Restell, a famed abortionist-brothel madam who committed suicide in her Fifth Avenue apartment in 1878; Joyce Hawley, arrested for performing nude in a bathtub of Prohibition-era champagne; and celebrated nightclub owners through the ages, from P.T. Barnum to the Cotton Club's gangster-owner Owney Madden. Unfortunately, too much of this story reads like a stodgy textbook. The author is prone to tedious digressions, such as detailing the plotlines of early stage plays. There are also puzzling omissions as the story approaches the present day. For example, Caldwell lavishes attention on short-lived discos like Arthur's and Studio 54, while never mentioning the famed Fillmore East or the recently shuttered Bottom Line.

Some rare historical delicacies, but Caldwell proves better at listing dates and names than at weaving a compelling narrative.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-4276-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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