National Public Radio producer Trudeau (The Last Citadel, 1991; Bloody Roads South, 1989), completing a fine trilogy of works about the Civil War, recounts the turbulent collapse of the Confederacy in the months following Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. ``General readers are so taken with the simple drama of Appomattox,'' Trudeau writes in his preface, ``that many continue to believe that the Civil War ended with that incident.'' Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Trudeau: At the time of Lee's surrender, Confederate armies were still in the field in North Carolina, Alabama, and the trans-Mississippi, and it was far from obvious to the leaders of the North that the Confederacy would not continue to fight, even though the Richmond government had fled after the collapse of Lee's army. Trudeau reports events great and small in this three-month period in 1865 that transformed America: the final clashes and the surrender of the remaining Confederate armies, Lincoln's assassination, the capture of Jefferson Davis, the sinking of the steamboat Sultana in the Mississippi (heading north with over 1,500 former Union prisoners on board), and the tragic May 25 magazine explosion in Mobile, Alabama. The last actual battle between Union and Confederate forces was a skirmish at Palmito Ranch, Texas, on May 13; although it was not a resounding Union victory, the combatants themselves recognized that it represented the end of the war. Finally, Trudeau writes about the triumphant march of the Union armies in Washington on May 23, and the setting of the stage for Reconstruction. Superb and important—another ground-breaking achievement in research and narration for Trudeau, covering a period not often examined in depth by Civil War historians.

Pub Date: April 29, 1994

ISBN: 0-316-85328-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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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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