A bit too tepid for a general audience, but readers with an interest in the interwar US military or the history of the...

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AMERICAN ROAD

THE STORY OF AN EPIC TRANSCONTINENTAL JOURNEY AT THE DAWN OF THE MOTOR AGE

From prolific and eclectic British author Davies (The Devil’s Flu, 2000, etc.), the story of a US Army convoy’s struggle in 1919 to drive from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco.

Davies draws on his own experiences driving through the American Midwest (Storm Country, 1993) as he chronicles the Army’s first transcontinental motor convoy. Its purpose, he asserts, was to show the practicability of moving military equipment and personnel across the continent. Watching the convoy’s progress with keen interest were automobile pioneers like Henry Joy and Frank Seiberling, who hoped that the publicity surrounding the trip would generate government enthusiasm for improving the nascent Lincoln Highway, thereby sharpening the American appetite for automobiles. As the convoy wound its way across the country, it became apparent that private funding could not maintain the road. Everywhere the convoy stopped, according to the author, civic groups pandered to the officers in hopes they would recommend much-needed highway funding for their communities. The commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles McClure, found the route so bad that the army vehicles destroyed scores of flimsy bridges and reduced Utah and Nevada’s muddy roads to impassable quagmires. Davies concludes that the convoy achieved more than establishing the feasibility of military traffic crossing the country; it also prompted the state and national governments to begin funding road construction, ensured the health of the American motor industry for years to come, and contributed to the development of a national highway system.

A bit too tepid for a general audience, but readers with an interest in the interwar US military or the history of the American motor industry will find it useful.

Pub Date: July 3, 2002

ISBN: 0-8050-6883-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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