There are not enough superlatives to describe the wealth of information in this book and the bright, clear way in which it...

EIGHTY-EIGHT YEARS

THE LONG DEATH OF SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES, 1777–1865

Rael (History/Bowdoin Coll.; Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North, 2002, etc.) examines the long, slow death of slavery in the United States, masterfully showing how each event is connected and letting us in on secrets that textbooks never mentioned.

As he tracks the history of abolition from the founding until the end of the Civil War, the author refutes long-held theories with logical, well-researched ones. For example, Georgia and the Carolinas never threatened to reject the Constitution. It would have been suicide, since the Spanish to their south and the Creek Indians to the west threatened them. It is often said that slavery would have died a natural death if left alone. Not at all true, writes Rael; the invention of the cotton gin expanded the cotton industry, requiring even more slaves and more land. What fueled the run-up to the Civil War was a fight to establish slavery in the expanding U.S. The Missouri Compromise was ruled unconstitutional by the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which not only required the slave’s return, but also declared that the federal government had no right to outlaw slavery in any territory. The author rightly states that the turmoil surrounding the three-fifths compromise became the true basis of the conflict. It empowered the slave states in representation, in judicial appointments, and in the Electoral College, giving them the power to block legislation. Rael enlightens us on the wide differences in slavery throughout the New World and its ending through the Caribbean and Latin America, and he effectively shows the difficulties of emancipation, reconstruction, and the pervading white supremacy of the North.

There are not enough superlatives to describe the wealth of information in this book and the bright, clear way in which it is taught. Just buy it.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8203-4839-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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