Blemished by repetitive prose and a needlessly bumptious tone, Tucker’s narrative nevertheless contains much to interest and...

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PICKETT'S CHARGE

A NEW LOOK AT GETTYSBURG’S FINAL ATTACK

A popular historian deconstructs “the greatest assault of the greatest battle of America’s greatest war.”

Judging by the battlefield remains of combatants uncovered in 1996 or the 2014 Medal of Honor President Barack Obama bestowed on an artillery officer who helped thwart the Confederate assault, the real-world aftermath of Pickett’s Charge continues to unfold. Certainly, controversy persists among Civil War historians about precisely what happened on July 3, 1863, when Robert E. Lee went for broke and the “high tide of the Rebellion” was repulsed. Tucker (George Washington’s Surprise Attack: A New Look at the Battle that Decided the Fate of America, 2014, etc.) tracks the assault from the opening, unprecedented artillery bombardment to the end, where “the foremost attacker of Pickett’s Charge was killed near the open crest of so much strategic importance.” Determined to spotlight some hidden or neglected truths, he dots this narrative with various pieces of odd information, including, for example, the curious tendency of soldiers armed with bayonets during the intense fighting to eschew their use in favor of clubbing each other with muskets. The author also pauses to add a list and description of soldiers severely wounded in the groin and testicles. He comments on the precise nature of the terrain the attackers traversed, the disproportionate influence of Virginia Military Institute graduates within Pickett’s division, the considerable number of Irish and Germans among the Confederates, and the diversity of their backgrounds, facts at odds with the romanticism about “the very flower” of Southern culture and refinement that perished that day. More than anything, Tucker aims to pierce the myth that Lee’s plan was doomed. He argues that given the South’s need to strike a decisive blow, Lee’s tactics, a complex mix of artillery, infantry, and cavalry, were sound, that in spite of subordinate officers’ failures of leadership, communication, and execution, the assault came excruciatingly close to succeeding.

Blemished by repetitive prose and a needlessly bumptious tone, Tucker’s narrative nevertheless contains much to interest and provoke Civil War enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63450-796-7

Page Count: 488

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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...

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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