Not for every reader, but Civil War buffs will surely take note.

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THUNDER FROM A CLEAR SKY

STOVEPIPE JOHNSON'S CONFEDERATE RAID ON NEWBURGH, INDIANA

A crafty Confederate officer boldly raids a small Indiana town in the early stages of the Civil War.

With any epic conflict like the Civil War, there are bound to be countless small stories that get lost. Here, Mulesky rescues one such tale from obscurity. Adam Johnson, better known as “Stovepipe,” was a southern rascal seemingly destined to be a thorn in the side of the North. What he lacked in troops and equipment he made up for in guts and guile. After displaying his gumption by raiding the National Hotel in Henderson, Ky., with only two comrades, the opportunistic Johnson set his sights on a larger prize: a cache of weapons stockpiled in the small but economically significant town of Newburgh, Ind. Made possible by a combination of good fortune (a recent thunderstorm had knocked out the telegraph lines in nearby Evansville, preventing quick contact with possible reinforcements) and inside information provided by a few Confederate sympathizers from Newburgh, including wharf master “Hamp” Carney, Johnson’s raid was the first Confederate attack launched north of the Mason-Dixon line. Johnson’s objective was accomplished without firing a shot, as his force captured approximately 85 already-wounded or sick men. Though of minimal military significance, the raid on Newburgh has all of the components of an absorbing story: intrigue, betrayal, revenge and a wily, charismatic (anti-)hero in Johnson. Following the brief narrative is an appendix of the major players, further information on the Newburgh residents who conspired with Johnson and a helpful timeline of events. Mulesky’s account is deft, rendered in crisp prose. Although the subject matter may have the most appeal for regional readers, history buffs will undoubtedly appreciate this illuminating account of an event outside the periphery of most history books.

Not for every reader, but Civil War buffs will surely take note.

Pub Date: March 3, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-33852-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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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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