A useful one-volume history refreshingly without many bones to pick but also without much fire.



A sturdy overview of the Indian Wars.

Cozzens (Battlefields of the Civil War: The Battles that Shaped America, 2011, etc.) turns his attention westward to the combat between invading whites and Natives along the frontier. Traditional histories set the beginnings of that conflict with the Sioux Uprising of 1862, but Cozzens starts in 1866 with the better-studied war of resistance mounted by Red Cloud. His long narrative continues to the shameful massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee a generation later, a compressed period with many set pieces, from the Battle of Little Bighorn to the murder of Crazy Horse and the Geronimo Campaign. The author covers all the ground dutifully if without much flair; this is a narrative of facts more than ideas, and it sometimes plods. Still, Cozzens is not without insight—“the Indians who had gone to war against the government had usually done so reluctantly,” he writes, “and they had lost their land and their way of life anyway”—and there is much merit in having a readable history of the Indian Wars in one volume. Cozzens promises to “bring historical balance” to the story, and he does, but this mostly means demonstrating to readers that not all whites were devils and not all tribes that were not wholeheartedly in resistance were sellouts, the view we have been accustomed to since Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970). As Cozzens notes on the latter score, many Native groups saw the federal government as a reliable protector against rival tribes, and regardless, instances were few where there was monolithic opposition to the whites even within a group. Still, as Gen. George Crook noted of the Indians, “all the tribes tell the same story. They are surrounded on all sides, the game is destroyed or driven away, they are left to starve, and there remains but one thing for them to do—fight while they can.”

A useful one-volume history refreshingly without many bones to pick but also without much fire.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-307-95804-4

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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