A welcome contribution to frontier history.




A persuasive effort to locate the origins of the American Revolution not in Boston Harbor but in the dense woodlands of western Pennsylvania.

The Black Boys Rebellion, commemorated in the 1939 John Wayne vehicle Allegheny Uprising, takes its name from a Pennsylvania militia outfit’s practice of dressing in Indian garb and blackening their faces before going into the field. They had formed to battle Indian raids on what was then British America’s far western frontier. At the conclusion of the Seven Years War, the British Crown had decided to make peace with the Indian nations, in part by forbidding Americans from settling in country that they regarded as rightfully theirs. “Colonists in war-torn regions felt there could be no peace with Native Americans,” writes Spero (Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania, 2016, etc.), the librarian of the American Philosophical Society. “These colonists instead saw Native groups as threats that needed to be removed.” When the British government sent agents to the frontier to bring trade goods as peace offerings to the Natives, the militia turned their arms on their colonial masters. Although the story of their rebellion is in itself a small one relative to the larger history of the British Empire in North America, Spero does a good job of examining its implications. There was a class element, for example, in the hope of landholders to slowly settle the West “instead of permitting colonists to pursue their desire for unfettered expansion,” and there were significant differences in the attitudes of the first frontier president, Andrew Jackson, and predecessors such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in how Native peoples were to be treated. Interestingly, the author also locates an early stirring of the Second Amendment in Black Boys’ leader James Smith, who drafted the revolutionary constitution of Pennsylvania that asserted that “the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state.”

A welcome contribution to frontier history.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-63470-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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