An itinerant campus speaker reports back from interviews at more than 100 schools, arguing that students are not ``simply greedy or indifferent,'' as popular images suggest. Loeb (Nuclear Culture, 1982, etc.) covers a lot of ground, mixing report and essay. He begins by analyzing campus apathy: He meets apolitical students who prize individualism, call activists self-serving, fear downward mobility, lack historical perspective on the 1960s, and think their classroom life disengaged from reality. Loeb, a longtime activist himself, doesn't damn them but suggests that our larger culture encourages political complacency. He goes on, however, to explore activism, focusing on situations, not individuals. Some examples: ``Greeks for Peace'' at the University of Michigan, divestment efforts at Columbia, a tuition protest at the City University of New York. All of these efforts were launched by students inspired by a variety of stimuli: family, teachers, campus comrades, or a reaction to ``America's increasingly visible crises.'' Loeb concludes that this is a generation with a ``contingent'' future, in which small but growing numbers are trying to work for a better society. His own observations are generally astute, recognizing that today's black campus separatism has its historical precedent in the 1960s, criticizing PC-baiters but also acknowledging that identity politics privileges race and sex over class. However, he covers his ambitious topic broadly rather than deeply, failing to elucidate campus tensions over race and sex or to say much about curriculum reform—though he does observe trenchantly that the political activists he met were largely untouched by much-derided theories like deconstructionism and postmodernism. Better on big pictures than case studies, but a worthy response to Illiberal Education and other portrayals of campus life today. (First serial to Vogue, New Age, Sierra, Mother Jones; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 1994

ISBN: 0-8135-2144-0

Page Count: 510

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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