MINE EYES HAVE SEEN by Richard Goldstein


A First Person History of the Events that Shaped America
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 Quick snapshots of some crucial events and turning points in American history, drawn from the impressions of eyewitnesses. Goldstein (Ivy League Autumns: An Illustrated History of College Football's Grand Old Rivalries, 1996, etc.), a New York Times editor, gathers a broad collection of first-person testimony from many people ``who were there,'' ranging from Verrazano reporting his 1524 landing in the New World up to Bob Dole, speaking after he cast his vote in the 1996 presidential election. Goldstein's short comments set the stage for the witnesses, who range from the obscure to the familiar. Adams, Jefferson, Dolley Madison, Dickens, Thoreau, Grant, Whitman, Twain, Henry Ford, Lindbergh, Theodore and Eleanor Roosevelt are among the more famous included here. The brief reports (most no more than one or two pages) drawn from letters, journals, memoirs, newspaper reports, and court testimony, add color and life to static--if highly important--historical tableaus, including the Boston Tea Party, the fall of the Alamo, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln's assasination, the invention of the telephone, labor unrest at Homestead, the Wright brothers' first flight, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Cuban missile crisis, and Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, among many other events. Goldstein's selections stress such things as the long struggle for equality by African-Americans and women, and the battles of labor unions for fair wages and better working conditions. Inevitably, there is a somewhat hit-or-miss quality to the book: Every major event can't be included, and many seemingly worthy of notice (and with lively documentary material to draw from), such as the Reagan conservative revolution and the Gulf War, aren't here. Flash-card history that may whet the appetites of deprived history students, but a light meal for serious readers.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81599-0
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997


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