The lesson the New Deal government took home: avoid ticking off discontented veterans, whence the GI Bill. A lively,...

THE BONUS ARMY

AN AMERICAN EPIC

Here a demonstrator is clubbed and tear-gassed, but there real reforms are won: thus unfolds this memorable story of a now-forgotten episode in 20th-century history.

The idea that WWI veterans should receive a bonus for their service took years to build and years more to fulfill. As popular historians Dickson (Sputnik, 2001) and Allen (Code Name Downfall, 1995, etc.) write, part of the delay was a matter of political clout; whereas Civil War vets formed a powerful and populous voting bloc and agitated for pensions, by the time Woodrow Wilson sent troops off to war in Europe, his notion was that soldiers would pay for their own life insurance and “there would be no demand for postwar compensation to those who were not injured during their service.” Veterans in Oregon thought otherwise, and soon African-American vets from Virginia and hill-country farmers from Tennessee would join in their call for what was now being called a “bonus” for service. When neither Congress nor presidents would cough up, the vets began to organize nationally, and in 1932 thousands arrived in Washington to protest the Senate’s defeat of a bill that would have funds for them. Sure that the leaders were Communists, Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur sent in troops, routing the ethnically mixed protestors and killing some. On hearing the news, Franklin Roosevelt reportedly said to an aide, “This will elect me,” and indeed it seemed one of the last straws for the Hoover administration. Ironically, the Bonus Army’s leadership was far more inclined to the right than the left, so that even as MacArthur was blustering about the Reds, a group of financiers approached a retired Marine Corps general to lead an army of veterans to stage a coup. The general replied, “If you get these 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of fascism, I am going to get 500,000 more and lick the hell out of you, and we will have real war right at home.”

The lesson the New Deal government took home: avoid ticking off discontented veterans, whence the GI Bill. A lively, engaging work of history.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8027-1440-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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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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