THE DARKEST DAYS OF THE WAR

THE BATTLES OF IUKA AND CORINTH

An illuminating account of an 1862 Confederate campaign in northern Mississippi, whose importance may only be matched by the obscurity into which it has fallen and the grand mistakes made by its planners. Cozzens (No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River, not reviewed) focuses on the contentious relationships among commanders in one corner of the western theater of operations. To protect Braxton Bragg's flank during his Kentucky invasion, Jefferson Davis combined the forces of Sterling Price, whom Davis suspected of disloyalty, and Earl Van Dorn, a vainglorious womanizer, under the leadership of the latter. Davis did not know, however, that Van Dorn had his own agenda: to seize Corinth, the junction of two key railroad systems, and then march for St. Louis. In the way stood Ulysses Grant. The blue and gray forces clashed first at Iuka on Sept. 19, which Cozzens calls a textbook example of an ``engagement gone tragically awry.'' Grant, too far removed to communicate effectively with subordinate Gen. William Rosecrans, lost the opportunity to trap Price. Then, two weeks later, Van Dorn launched an assault with few equals for ineptitude: He conducted no reconnaissance, threw troops exhausted from marching immediately into battle against a well-entrenched foe, failed to achieve surprise, and underestimated West Point classmate Rosecrans. At the resulting battle of Corinth, the Confederates attacked in 100- degree heat for two days, without food, with little water. When the smoke cleared, one-tenth of the Federals had fallen, but Confederate losses were an even more staggering one-third. The campaign gave the Union the major communications and supply center east of the Mississippi, and cleared the way for Grant's Vicksburg campaign. An excellent case study of how army politics, miscommunication, and missed chances could decisively influence a campaign.

Pub Date: April 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-8078-2320-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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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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