Though the Mexican point-of-view receives scant consideration, the book is action-packed and peopled by intriguing...

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THE TRAINING GROUND

GRANT, LEE, SHERMAN, AND DAVIS IN THE MEXICAN WAR, 1846-1848

Dugard (Chasing Lance: The 2005 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong’s Ride of a Lifetime, 2005, etc.) offers an admiring, blow-by-blow account of one of the most shameful wars of aggression in American history.

The tight-knit West Point “brotherhood” who served during the Mexican War—which included the illustrious names Grant, Lee, Jackson, Davis, Bragg, Beauregard, Sherman, Pickett, Burnside, Longstreet and Hooker—would meet again in more dire, momentous circumstances during the Civil War. Dugard works backward from Appomattox, 1865—when generals Lee and Grant recognized each other from their stint in Mexico some 18 years before—and follows their dissimilar early military careers from West Point. Lee, an exemplary student who graduated second in his class of 1829, was the gentleman son of the famous Revolutionary War hero. Grant, who graduated in 1843, was a scrappy kid from Ohio who didn’t excel in much but horsemanship. (Pickett, in contrast, was the class “goat,” graduating last in his class.) The cadets cut their teeth during the Mexican-American conflict, after the Alamo had fallen in 1836, martyring the Texian rebels, who had provoked Mexico into challenging their desire for independence and annexation by the United States. The country was ripe for expansion (Manifest Destiny), and annexation of California and Texas from Mexico, as well as Oregon from Britain, was the game plan for many politicians, led by James K. Polk. General Zachary Taylor commanded the American army marching on Texas, and with him quartermaster Grant, whose letters to his sweetheart Julia Dent back in St. Louis, along with extracts from his later memoirs, help frame the subsequent incursions into Mexico, from Fort Texas and Monterrey to Veracruz and Mexico City. Dugard alternates this narrative with glimpses of Lee’s dogged engineering work under General Winfield Scott, and Mississippi Congressman Jefferson Davis’s eager volunteer action.

Though the Mexican point-of-view receives scant consideration, the book is action-packed and peopled by intriguing characters.

Pub Date: May 14, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-316-16625-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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