Readers with a serious interest in Cochise’s life and times will prefer less self-conscious lives, such as Edwin Sweeney’s...

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COCHISE

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE GREAT APACHE CHIEF

A well-intentioned but unsatisfying life of the Apache warrior, “arguably the only Native American leader to actually win his war with the United States of America.”

Aleshire (American Studies/Arizona State Univ.; The Fox and the Whirlwind: General George Crook and Geronimo, 2000), begins his life of Cochise, the great Chiricahua Apache fighter and strategist, with an apology: because the conventional historiography of the 19th-century American West does not often allow for Native American voices, he asserts, he has had to use considerable invention in looking at Apache history from an Apache point of view. That’s all well and good, but Aleshire takes a few long stretches in recounting the eventful, violence-plagued life of Cochise (1804?–74), who had his hands full battling Mexicans and Americans while trying to secure a homeland that would be safe from intruders, while at the same time trying to rein in ambitious, bellicose compatriots like Geronimo. For one thing, Aleshire attributes to Cochise ideas and statements that no reliable history corroborates (“Cochise especially liked this story,” he writes at one point before relating a folktale gathered by an anthropologist in the late 1930s); for another, he tends to crib rather heavily from the ethnographic literature, and the best lines here are often those of writers such as Morris Opler, Eve Ball, and Keith Basso; for still another, Aleshire has an unfortunate habit of writing in a sort of noble-savage pastiche that’s thick with simile from the Chief Dan George school of Indian rhetoric (“Cochise felt caught in the midst of his enemies, like the deer who hears the echo of the wolves ahead and behind”; “He had steeled his heart, like a knife heated and quenched”; “Now Cochise’s heart leaped up in his chest, like an eagle lunging against a tether”). The surfeit of conjecture, sentimentality, and stentorian tone works, in the end, against Aleshire’s reliability as a narrator and historian, and it makes this a chore to read.

Readers with a serious interest in Cochise’s life and times will prefer less self-conscious lives, such as Edwin Sweeney’s Cochise and David Roberts’s Once They Moved Like the Wind, to Aleshire’s imaginative treatment.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-471-38363-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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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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