Die-hard Crimson-ites may flock to this, but who else will want to read 400 pages of Harvard insider politics? It’s a fluid,...

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HARVARD RULES

THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL UNIVERSITY

Welcome to Harvard Yard—or, more precisely, to the president’s office in Mass Hall.

As Bradley (American Son, 2002, written as Richard Bow) tells it, Harvard found itself in something of an identity crisis at the turn of the new century. Was Harvard still the best school around, or was it being edged out by Princeton and Yale? The Harvard Corporation was worried, so when President Neil Rudenstine retired, it looked for someone who would shake things up a bit. They found their man in Larry Summers, the enfant terrible economist and former Treasury Secretary who became Harvard’s president in 2001. Here, Bradley covers everything from Summers’s responses to 9/11 and the rise of worldwide anti-Semitism to his attempts to crack down on grade inflation. Readers will even get a peek at his love life. But Bradley is most energized by the fracas around Harvard’s African-American Studies department. The best such department in the country, it was built up by President Rudenstine and Henry Louis Gates Jr., but when Summers came along, he immediately alienated Gates and didn’t even meet with him, a powerhouse by anyone’s standards, until he’d been seated as president for several months—and, when he did, he was wishy-washy about affirmative action. Then there was the showdown with Cornel West, which made the pages of the Boston Globe and the New York Times, after Summers told West his scholarship wasn’t up to snuff, that he needed to stop writing popular books and do some serious work. West was livid, eventually leaving Harvard for Princeton. Gates, too, toyed with switching, though for the time being he’s still in Cambridge. Bradley chronicles the West-Gates-Summers battle royal in detail that’s sometimes delicious and sometimes, well, mind-numbing.

Die-hard Crimson-ites may flock to this, but who else will want to read 400 pages of Harvard insider politics? It’s a fluid, solid profile but would have been better as a magazine article.

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-056854-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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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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