A rarely told story: how the GI Bill loosed great unseen forces that helped to transform America from the working-class, largely agricultural society of the Great Depression and the New Deal into a largely middle-class society. Bennett, a former reporter for the Boston Herald and the Detroit News, begins by tracing the origins of the bill and the fight to make it law in 1944. The American Legion was particularly influential: Members who had fought in WW I remembered the shabby treatment they had received when they came home. The heart of the book, though, is Bennett's study of the ways in which the law helped transform postwar American life. It provided opportunities for education unavailable to previous generations, as well as low- priced home mortgages that helped fuel new suburbs and emptied ethnic ghettos. Mature, world-traveled GIs, most of them from the urban and rural working class, stormed college campuses in record numbers, filled honor rolls and deans' lists, raised student performance levels, and shook up the old, gentlemanly college culture. Millions of erstwhile blue-collar, rent-paying workers turned into professionals of every calling, as well as prosperous, skilled entrepreneurs and home-owners. This silent army, Bennett suggests, created a revolution in American life; GIs used the money they got to do vital if seemingly ordinary things and in the process created a more abundant and egalitarian society. The total postwar cost of $14.5 billion was an investment that returned manyfold more in revenue as veterans earned more and paid more taxes. Bennett believes that the GI Bill was the most successful government program since the Homestead Act. A refreshing look at a time of optimism, sacrifice, hard work, and achievement (despite the Cold War) when the American dream finally became a reality for millions.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-57488-041-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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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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