THE BATTLE FOR HOMESTEAD, 1880-1892

CULTURE, POLITICS, AND STEEL

A solid and thorough history of the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which a powerful steelworkers' union was destroyed in a lockout and protracted struggle. By taking a broad view of the strike and incorporating discussion of earlier conflicts at Andrew Carnegie's Homestead Steel Works, as well as developments in relations between capital and labor generally, Krause (History/Univ. of British Columbia) is able to produce a multifaceted, comprehensive analysis. Technological advances in steelmaking—especially the Bessemer process, which eliminated the need for certain skills in ironworking—were, he explains, part of a program by industrialists to mechanize their plants as much as possible, reducing the role of human laborers. This mechanical frame of reference—plus the emergence of ``machine politics'' as practiced by mill owners in the second half of the 19th century—brought on a ferocious battle with organized labor as workers sought to retain a livelihood that would allow them a measure of economic security. In contrast to steelworkers in Pittsburgh, who were split into divisive factions, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers in the nearby town of Homestead won an important victory during a strike against the forced signing of a company contract in 1882. Ten years later, though, the unity of the town and its workers could not survive an occupation by National Guard troops, recruitment of scab labor, and charges of murder and treason against strike leaders, and the union was broken, effectively ending the power of organized labor in the US steel industry for nearly 40 years. The definitive work on Homestead and its significance for American labor, with lessons still valid a century later. (Illustrations—not seen.) (Those interested in reading further about Homestead should note that the publisher is bringing out simultaneously ``The River Ran Red,'' ed. by David P. Demarest and others: an excellent collection of eyewitness accounts, newspaper reproductions, contemporary photos, etc., woven together with commentary by several scholars. Hardcover: $39.00, 0-8229-3710-7; paper: $19.95, 0-8229-5478-8.)

Pub Date: July 6, 1992

ISBN: 0-8229-3702-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Univ. of Pittsburgh

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1992

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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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At nearly 1,000 pages, Chernow delivers a deeply researched, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know biography, but few readers...

GRANT

A massive biography of the Civil War general and president, who “was the single most important figure behind Reconstruction.”

Most Americans know the traditional story of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885): a modest but brutal general who pummeled Robert E. Lee into submission and then became a bad president. Historians changed their minds a generation ago, and acclaimed historian Chernow (Washington: A Life, 2010, etc.), winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, goes along in this doorstop of a biography, which is admiring, intensely detailed, and rarely dull. A middling West Point graduate, Grant performed well during the Mexican War but resigned his commission, enduring seven years of failure before getting lucky. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was the only West Point graduate in the area, so local leaders gave him a command. Unlike other Union commanders, he was aggressive and unfazed by setbacks. His brilliant campaign at Vicksburg made him a national hero. Taking command of the Army of the Potomac, he forced Lee’s surrender, although it took a year. Easily elected in 1868, he was the only president who truly wanted Reconstruction to work. Despite achievements such as suppressing the Ku Klux Klan, he was fighting a losing battle. Historian Richard N. Current wrote, “by backing Radical Reconstruction as best he could, he made a greater effort to secure the constitutional rights of blacks than did any other President between Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson.” Recounting the dreary scandals that soiled his administration, Chernow emphasizes that Grant was disastrously lacking in cynicism. Loyal to friends and susceptible to shady characters, he was an easy mark, and he was fleeced regularly throughout his life. In this sympathetic biography, the author continues the revival of Grant’s reputation.

At nearly 1,000 pages, Chernow delivers a deeply researched, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know biography, but few readers will regret the experience. For those seeking a shorter treatment, turn to Josiah Bunting’s Ulysses S. Grant (2004).

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59420-487-6

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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