A detail-packed survey of the manifold conquest of North America. In that conquest, writes historian Marks (And Die in the West, 1989), laws and whiskey figured as prominently as did firearms. Beginning her overview with the Plymouth Bay colony and ending in modern times, Marks considers the longstanding patterns of dependence and subservience established as a matter of policy by the European powers and their American successors. In the presence of these powers, Native American nations compromised and bargained in the hope of maintaining their lands, making major cultural adaptations that often reached the point of cultural suicide. Marks doesn—t arrive at any startling conclusions in her pages, and she breaks no new ground; the account relies, strangely for so sweeping a survey, on a relatively small number of sources. Yet she weaves together her narrative skillfully, emphasizing several themes without belaboring the usual guilty- conqueror-vs.-noble-victim trope. She shows, for instance, that in many cases the Indian nations were bargained straight into untenable situations—in the case of the Sioux, for instance, trading hunting rights for federal rations that arrived only irregularly, which led to thousands of deaths by starvation—and that these desperate situations often led the Indians to an unwanted alternative, namely armed resistance. Marks traces the course of Native American dispossession from outright conquest and theft to federal programs that, intentionally or not, destroyed what little sovereignty most Indian nations may have enjoyed; she offers a variety of case studies to press her argument, and they do not make for cheering reading. Students of Indian policy will find this a useful reference. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen; 6 maps)

Pub Date: April 4, 1998

ISBN: 0-688-14143-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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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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