A useful survey for readers interested in the Civil War in its short-lived southwestern theater.




The fight between North and South comes West.

Nelson’s (Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War, 2012, etc.) cast of characters reads like a John Ford film cast, featuring Mangas Coloradas, Kit Carson, and, in a cameo appearance, Geronimo. Added to it are lesser known figures such as John Baylor, a Texas rancher who became a Confederate, and James Henry Carleton, an agile foe on the Union side. The setting is New Mexico Territory, with a breakaway Arizona in favor of slavery and a nearby California founded as a free state. At the beginning of the Civil War, Baylor, writes the author, “became the first Confederate to lead a successful invasion of Union territory in the Civil War.” He captured a Union fort and threatened others before being relieved of command, in part because he had issued a no-quarter call against “renegade” Apaches. The Union Army eventually gained supremacy in the field with the arrival of columns from California and Colorado and victories in fights with Confederate forces, but federal forces then continued the war against the Apaches and Navajos to make the “three-cornered war” of which Nelson writes. That war took savage turns with the murder of Apache leader Mangas Coloradas, whose head was removed by a Union surgeon and boiled in a large kettle until “nothing but the skull was left.” It was a gruesome souvenir but not the only atrocity of the campaign. The war in New Mexico did not last long, with a “multiracial army of Union soldiers” composed of Hispanic New Mexicans and newcomer Anglos placing the territory firmly under Northern control by 1862. Nelson is a touch florid at times (“their stories reveal how the imagined future of the West shaped the Civil War, and how the Civil War became a defining moment in the West”), and most elements of her story are well known to students of the history of the American West. She does a good job of setting them in a coherent, if never particularly rousing narrative.

A useful survey for readers interested in the Civil War in its short-lived southwestern theater.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5254-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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