THE ROOSEVELTS

AN AMERICAN SAGA

A dubious new examination of the Roosevelt clan by the team that has previously delved into the lives of several American dynasties. Any new book about the Roosevelts carries a big burden. There have, of course, been many books already about the family, many of which are termed ``excellent'' and ``brilliant'' by Collier and Horowitz. The authors have their own reputation to reckon with, too. Coauthors of previous dynasty books (The Kennedys, not reviewed, etc.), they have been accused, by turns, of superficiality, sensationalism, and inducing boredom. The Roosevelt book is rarely boring and certainly not sensationalistic. It is, however, troubling in another way: The authors place more emphasis than previous biographers on the conflict between the two branches of the Roosevelt family. Writing in the singular voice, they explain: ``My own inclination has been to try to treat the story of the Oyster Bay [Teddy and Eleanor] and Hyde Park [Franklin] branches, usually seen as two casually related stories, as one complex dynastic drama. There is a familial civil war at the heart of the story....'' Previous Roosevelt chroniclers, while sometimes mentioning the ``civil war,'' have refrained from building a book around it. Collier and Horowitz have done just that. Accordingly, they seize every opportunity to accent interbranch conflict, dwelling, for example, on the subtle and not-so-subtle slights traded among relatives at the 1905 wedding of Eleanor and Franklin, exchanges that overshadowed the ceremony itself. More than 80 years later, according to the authors, the internecine strife finally lessened as the two branches more or less reconciled at a reunion. At times entertaining, this family-conflict approach (based largely on derivative, sometimes skimpy sources) requires some liberal interpretations of events for the sake of dramatic continuity. Readers unfamiliar with the available Roosevelt literature may find this approach informative and fun. Others—well-read in Roosevelt literature and not titillated by the bickering—will find it irritating.

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-65225-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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...

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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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