Readers seeking an entertaining and informative study of the 1968 campaign would do well to start here.

THE CONTEST

THE 1968 ELECTION AND THE WAR FOR AMERICA'S SOUL

A thorough examination of one of the most divisive political campaigns in American history.

In an April 2018 Wall Street Journal article, Pat Buchanan, looking back on his time as an aide to Richard Nixon, wrote that 1968 was “America’s most divisive year since the Civil War had begun.” In his latest book, Schumacher (Dharma Lion: A Biography of Allen Ginsberg, 2016, etc.) depicts that year’s tumultuous presidential campaign as “the culmination of a mighty struggle lasting for at least a decade, beginning with the early civil rights movement and continuing through the Vietnam protests.” The author begins with background information on each of the major players in the campaign: the anti–Vietnam War contender (Eugene McCarthy), the doomed advocate for civil rights (Robert F. Kennedy), the vice president caught between the liberal wing of his party and the administration he loyally served (Hubert H. Humphrey), the wily segregationist with a dying spouse (George Wallace), and the “loser” who successfully rehabilitated his image (Nixon). The yearslong struggle intensified during the campaign, climaxing with the shocking violence in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention. Ultimately, the violence helped catapult the “law and order” Nixon to victory. Schumacher intersperses this narrative with many intriguing anecdotes, including hapless Republican candidate George Romney’s needing 34 tries to pick up a spare in a New Hampshire bowling alley, a cash-strapped McCarthy campaign selling the lunch leftovers of actor and supporter Paul Newman, and Wallace’s consideration of “Colonel” Harland Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame) as his running mate. Overall, the book runs a little long, and some of the candidates—Humphrey and Kennedy in particular—do not come across as well as the author intends. Schumacher also might have provided more context, including Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 nomination of the controversial Abe Fortas as chief justice of the United States.

Readers seeking an entertaining and informative study of the 1968 campaign would do well to start here.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8166-9289-7

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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