LIKE MEN OF WAR

BLACK TROOPS IN THE CIVIL WAR, 1862-1865

By National Public Radio producer Trudeau (Out of the Storm, 1994, etc.), another solid contribution to Civil War literature, this time about the experience of the so-called Colored Troops, who fought on the Union side. In recent years, films and books, particularly Joseph T. Glatthaar's Forged in Battle, have focused scholarly attention on the once-neglected exploits of the more than 175,000 black troops who fought in the Civil War. In an account more thorough and expansive than Glatthaar's, Trudeau shows little-known varieties of black military experience: Amazingly, free blacks in the South offered their military services to the Confederacy at the war's outset, before the North made abolition one of its wartime goals, and blacks in the multiracial areas of Louisiana and the Trans- Mississippi had well-developed military traditions dating back to the War of 1812. The Confederacy never made use of blacks as soldiers, however. Well before the final Emancipation Proclamation, units of back US troops were being sent into combat. Trudeau describes how, unreasonably, Northern editors and military men repeatedly asked whether the former slaves could fight as well as white men, even after units of the ``US Colored Troops'' had proved that they could. Trudeau compellingly captures many of their actions in detail, including moments of glory, like the capture of Fort Fisher by black troops on Jan. 15, 1865; moments of tragedy and bravery, like the failed July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner; and moments of savagery, like the massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow by Confederates under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on April 12, 1864. Trudeau also traces the curious historical fate of the African-American soldiers after their mustering out: In the revisionist historiography and racist culture of early 20th centry America, they were forgotten, and even in African-American culture and literature, their achievements were neglected. Another fine work by Trudeau, and a good companion to Glatthaar's study.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 1998

ISBN: 0-316-85325-9

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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