A highly detailed history of a fierce encounter during General Sherman's march north in the spring of 1865. Hughes (History/Univ. of North Carolina) describes Sherman's tough, battle-seasoned veterans, pumped with victory and foraging off the land, as they moved through North Carolina to link up with General Grant in Virginia and corner General Lee and his decimated Army of Northern Virginia. Sherman's long march through the South had sapped the Confederacy's will to keep fighting and destroyed the resources they needed to do so. Overconfident, the Union forces walked into an ambush at Bentonville. General Joseph E. Johnston's adroit use of his outnumbered forces was successful at first; his surprise attacks through the swampy terrain along the Union army's flanks threatened at first to collapse their line, but the Confederates were eventually worn down by Sherman's counterattacks. Conspicuous bravery was commonplace. Soldiers in both armies, worn down by hunger and lack of sleep, sensing that the war was finally drawing to its close, kept fighting. The author gives brief biographies of leading officers and stories of enlisted men who dignified this desperate fight with their suffering and courage. In time both commanders realized that Johnston could not win and Sherman could not lose. Some rebels, realizing this, simply walked away and went home. Hughes provides a thorough account of this great (and bloody) tactical struggle between two skilled soldiers. Despite his fearsome reputation, Hughes shows, Sherman usually tried to avoid bloody battles and to preserve the lives of his men by strategic maneuvers, and he did so again, successfully, at Bentonville. A month later the war was over. This prodigiously researched book should stand for many years as the definitive account of one of the war's last battles. (9 maps)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1996

ISBN: 0-8078-2281-7

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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