A wise and sensitive appreciation of the intersecting careers of two giants of American history.

DOUGLASS AND LINCOLN

HOW A REVOLUTIONARY BLACK LEADER AND A RELUCTANT LIBERATOR STRUGGLED TO END SLAVERY AND SAVE THE UNION

An insightful look at the sometimes uneasy collaboration, between the agitator and the emancipator, to end slavery and win the Civil War.

Had Lincoln died in 1857, the undistinguished, one-term ex-congressman and prairie lawyer would have been barely a footnote to history. Not so Frederick Douglass. By then, Douglass’s escape from slavery, his autobiography and his extensive lecturing had made him an international figure, perhaps the era’s foremost abolitionist. Amidst threats of Southern secession, Douglass declined to support Lincoln’s 1860 presidential bid, calling him “an excellent slave hound.” Douglass presciently assessed the contours of the coming Civil War (during which he met Lincoln three times) and saw how the “inexorable logic of events” would propel most of his activist agenda. Though slow to emancipate, reluctant to employ black troops and unwilling to make any firm commitment to giving the black man voting rights, Lincoln followed through on all, sometimes with Douglass’s advice and help. By 1864, Lincoln regarded Douglass as perhaps “the most meritorious man in the United States.” Understanding if not approving of Lincoln’s political high-wire act and recognizing that neither emancipation nor military victory was ever preordained, Douglass came to view the president as “swift, zealous, radical, and determined.” The Kendricks (Sarah’s Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America, 2004) beautifully assess the political and moral, and often conflicting, agendas of each man, but they excel, particularly in their treatment of Douglass, at personalizing one of the history’s most unlikely and effective political alliances. Along with James Oakes’s estimable The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (2007), the Kendricks testify to the increasing interest in and historical imperative for linking in the popular imagination these two intensely private, entirely self-made men.

A wise and sensitive appreciation of the intersecting careers of two giants of American history.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1523-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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