SARATOGA

TURNING POINT OF AMERICA'S REVOLUTIONARY WAR

An exciting and richly detailed narrative history of the events leading up to the decisive battle that altered the course of the American war for independence. Distinguished historian Ketchum (The Borrowed Years: 19381941, etc.) uses a wide range of primary and secondary sources to vividly depict this extraordinary drama. When ``Gentleman Johnny'' Burgoyne's feared army of British and German veterans invaded New York, intending to meet up with General Howe's forces, they seemed at first unstoppable. Burgoyne's fierce (and uncontrollable) Indian allies terrorized the countryside, killing civilians and burning and looting outlying settlements. The settlers (some of them previously lukewarm about the revolution) were forced to unite to defend their lives, families, and homes. The Americans soundly defeated the forces of the king at the fierce battles of Bennington and Fort Stanwix. At the same time, a merciless civil war between loyalists and rebels was being fought out in a series of small, vicious engagements. Burgoyne's logistical problems (he was compelled to drag mountains of equipment and supplies over narrow, primitive roads in unfamiliar country) and constant casualties served to weaken his seemingly invincible army. His exhausted forces were finally surrounded at Saratoga, and in the ensuing battle the Americans won a great victory under the courageous leadership of Benedict Arnold, Dan Morgan, and John Glover. Burgoyne's stunning surrender of his 6,000-man army brought a reassured France into the war on the side of the Americans, a move that would prove decisive. With clear, vigorous prose and well-drawn portraits of famous and obscure personalities, Ketchum captures a stirring time in American history, producing what should be the definitive study of Burgoyne's defeat for many years to come. (8 pages b&w illustrations, not seen) (History Book Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-4681-X

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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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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