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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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