A carefully focused and researched analysis that adds considerably to the historical record.

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ROOSEVELT'S SECOND ACT

THE ELECTION OF 1940 AND THE POLITICS OF WAR

Franklin Roosevelt’s tortured decision to run for an unprecedented third term, analyzed in terms of the president’s complicated personality and strategies.

A senior staffer in the Carter administration and longtime head of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (1993–2010), Moe (Changing Places: Rebuilding Community in the Age of Sprawl, 1997, etc.) takes a different approach from the numerous other recent works dealing with the lead-up to the U.S. election of 1940 and war in Europe—e.g., Lynne Olson's Those Angry Days and Michael Fullilove's Rendezvous with Destiny. Moe aims to get inside FDR's head and delineate the president's decision-making process step by step. From “shifting gears” from trying to jump-start the crippled economy in his first term to focusing on German aggression and bolstering England in his second, Roosevelt never let himself be pinned down. He made Sphinx-like pronouncements regarding his post–White House plans as the 1940 Democratic Convention approached; relations with Vice President John Nance Garner had soured, and it seemed he might anoint a successor in either Harry Hopkins or Cordell Hull, both valued subordinates. Yet letters poured in urging FDR to run, political gadflies prodded him, and the increasingly dire international situation cried out for continuity in leadership as France fell and the British were left to stand alone against Germany’s onslaught. In the face of Wendell Willkie’s GOP candidacy, Roosevelt came to accept that no other Democrat could keep the White House, and no other leader could stand up to Hitler as effectively. The secretive president kept his own counsel outside a circle of trusted advisers, however, intensely aware of the tradition that limited a president to two terms. He wanted “the call” to come from “the people through the American method of a free election,” and once he made up his mind to ask for another term, their response was decisive.

A carefully focused and researched analysis that adds considerably to the historical record.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-19-998191-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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