Vivid, balanced account of the astonishing political evolution of the legendary segregationist who, through adroit adaptation, has retained his Senate seat for nearly four decades and become a distinguished Washington institution. Born in 1902, Thurmond grew up in a conservative, racially segregated social milieu and a solidly Democratic political culture shaped by racist populists. Cohodas (a sometime reporter for The Congressional Quarterly) presents Thurmond as a personally decent but conformist and politically ambitious product of this environment who, elected governor of South Carolina in 1946, took some progressive steps (such as founding trade schools for blacks) but fought attempts to change his state's ``custom and tradition'' of racial segregation. Thurmond opposed national civil-rights legislation so much that, in 1948, he led fellow ``Dixiecrats'' out of the Democratic Party to run a third-party campaign for President. In 1954, Thurmond began his long career as a senator from South Carolina, achieving an enduring national reputation as the obstructionist who once conducted a 24-hour filibuster against civil-rights legislation. Cohodas argues persuasively that Thurmond's principal political achievement has been to transform the ``solid South'' from a Democratic to a Republican stronghold (in an influential move, Thurmond became a Republican during Barry Goldwater's run for President in 1964). Although, in the national memory, Thurmond will probably always be the ``old seg'' who fulminated against the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Acts, Cohodas shows that his conservatism mellowed and lost its racist edge as American society changed. The author closes with the striking spectacle of Thurmond—who once vowed to fight attempts to ``admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches''—trying, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to help Clarence Thomas onto the Supreme Court. An appealingly affectionate, warts-and-all portrait of a uniquely American figure. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-68935-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet