THE LAST FULL MEASURE

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE FIRST MINNESOTA VOLUNTEERS

One of the few first-rate small-unit histories of the Civil War, expertly conceived and gracefully written by the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The rule in modern Civil War studies seems to be that the more ``micro'' the focus, the duller the book. Moe's tale of one of the first volunteer regiments to enlist after the fall of Fort Sumter is a happy exception, a worthy companion to John Pullen's The Twentieth Maine (1980) and Warren Wilkinson's Mother, May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen (1991). Fresh from the farms, small settlements, and logging camps of a western frontier unknown to most of the Army of the Potomac, most of the Minnesotans who responded to the federal government's initial attempt to augment its small regular army had never seen a big city or a black American: The war proved a profound learning experience—and not merely in the school of combat. At first, the Minnesotans were afraid that they would have to sit out the war on Indian patrol, but then—even before they received regular uniforms—they were brought east to add to the Union corpses at First Bull Run. During that disastrous reversal, they stood as long as any federal troops, and their toughness was exhibited again and again on the Peninsula and at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and, finally, Gettysburg (where one of the two brothers Moe follows through the book was killed). In addition to battle history, we learn how enlisted men felt about long months on picket duty; what they ate (when they did eat); and how they related to the civilian population. Moe makes judicious use of the period's ubiquitous diaries and letters, as well as fascinating columns sent home to local newspapers by soldier- correspondents writing under pen names like ``Raisins'' and ``Shingles.'' A seamless narrative of Civil War sights, sounds, and emotions that deserves the warmest reception. (Photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: April 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-8050-2309-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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