If this seems much more a book about General McClellan, there’s good reason. The author deftly exposes his egocentric,...

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THE LONG ROAD TO ANTIETAM

HOW THE CIVIL WAR BECAME A REVOLUTION

Slotkin (No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864, 2009, etc.) painstakingly enumerates the instances of Gen. George McClellan’s wavering, delaying and outright disobedience of orders.

Throughout the book, the author exhibits his vast knowledge of the numerous generals involved in both sides of the conflict. McClellan was strongly in the camp of those who felt maintaining slavery in the South would end the war and, more importantly, leave him as the true savior and leader of the nation. Lincoln knew that compromise would only leave the country to fight another day. The general’s letters to his wife clearly outlined his megalomania, his delusional rages and his insistence that he was the only possible savior of the country. He even insulted the cabinet and the president by refusing to divulge his military plans. Known as the “Virginia Creeper,” McClellan knew that an early victory would allow the “radicals” to take over the war and insist on subduing the South. His outright blackmail in refusing to move his army until he received full command will make readers question why Lincoln put up with the man. Lincoln claimed he was the only capable general available. While the devotion of McClellan’s troops encouraged him as they parroted his opinions and grievances against Lincoln and others, that intense loyalty effectively barred any attempt to remove him. Slotkin’s comprehensive descriptions of the battles of 1862 show his deep understanding of the terrain, the difficulties of communication, the impossible logistics and the characters that influenced the outcome. The author includes a detailed, helpful chronology of the events of that fateful year.

If this seems much more a book about General McClellan, there’s good reason. The author deftly exposes his egocentric, messianic tendencies as he purposely prolonged the beginning of the conflict.

Pub Date: July 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-871-40411-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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