THE REAGAN DETOUR

A concise political essay on how Ronald Reagan cemented such a huge victory in 1984, while still not being exactly able to count on a popular mandate. Reeves, who for years has been writing some of the most intelligent political journalism around, has taken a breather from his two recent travel commentaries, Passage to Peshawar and American Journey, to present a compact Making of the President: 1984. Reeves insists that the Democrats' problem is one of being in a political fog. He finds the perfect symbol of this in Mondale's 1981 announcement that he was taking a year off to read and think—a telling comment from someone who had already spent 30 years in public life. This is the problem from which the Democrats will have to extract themselves if they are to ensure that Reagan's detour remains just that. The 1984 election presented two candidates both talking about "family"—but Reeves delineates the two versions: Mondale was speaking of the "family of man," not much different from the old liberal ideals of the government stepping in to take care of everybody: when Reagan said "family," Reeves writes, "he meant Mom and Dad and the kids—you and yours, me and mine." Apparently, the electorate at the moment prefers a "fortress family" outlook. So Reagan got his consensus. But, Reeves notes, "Today's consensus becomes tomorrow's contention." To him, the matters for contention for the rest of the decade will revolve around four main questions: l) Who pays? 2) Should we prepare for a world war? 3) Can we impose a Pax Americana? and 4) Are we really our brothers' keepers? Reeves finds the coming debate on these questions to be a matter of great excitement, and in laying them out he makes his excitement infectious. Surely to be talked-about as America gears up for the next presidential election cycle.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1985

ISBN: 0671607022

Page Count: 141

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985

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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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