TERRIBLE INNOCENCE

GENERAL SHERMAN AT WAR

A folksy, unpretentious view of the Civil War exploits of the crusty warrior who's become identified with the harsh rationalization and ruthless practice of total war. In the view of many, Coburn (English/Fort Lewis College) says, ``General Sherman was like Attila the Hun, but less cuddly.'' The author suggests, though, that the view of Sherman as barbarian is simplistic, and that the general was more interested in destroying property of potential military value to the Confederates than in taking civilian lives. Coburn also contends that, unlike many Civil War commanders who ordered suicidal frontal assaults, Sherman constantly sought to preserve the lives of his own men, and—with a few lapses, like the murderous repulse of Union forces at Kennesaw Mountain—succeeded in doing so. In a colorful, fast-paced account, the author tells of Sherman's march of destruction from Atlanta to the sea, but he argues that the general's march from Savannah to Goldsboro, North Carolina, though less well known, was more destructive, more arduous, and strategically more important. Despite the studied destructiveness of his tactics, Sherman professed to like and admire the South (he headed a Louisiana military school at war's outbreak, and he'd urged his southern friends to desist from secession), and he was actually branded a traitor by Secretary of War Stanton for extending overly generous surrender terms to General Johnston's army. After the war, Sherman garnered new fame as the leader of America's Indian-fighting constabulary and as the author of one of the Civil War's most penetrating memoirs. Despite an incongruous informality (Coburn refers to Sherman throughout as ``Cump,'' a childhood nickname used by only a few intimates): a generally superb account of the lively personality and impressive, if sometimes disturbing, military achievements of one of the Civil War's most important strategists. (Sixteen illustrations, six maps—not seen) (Military Book Club Main Selection)

Pub Date: May 31, 1993

ISBN: 0-7818-0156-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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