A few notable naval battles changed the course of wars, even history, but the clash at Hampton Roads transformed the nature...

IRON DAWN

THE MONITOR, THE MERRIMACK, AND THE CIVIL WAR SEA BATTLE THAT CHANGED HISTORY

The former editor-in-chief of American Heritage revisits an epochal battle in naval history.

To some, the Monitor appeared “a mere speck, a hat upon the water,” but she was “the most complicated machine that had ever been built,” a combination of steam and iron whose revolutionary design so confounded naval architects that many doubted she would even float. Instead, when she appeared at Virginia’s Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, the day after the Confederacy’s iron-plated Merrimack had already sunk two Union wooden ships, she preserved the Union blockade and immediately rendered every navy in the world obsolete. Popular historian Snow (I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford, 2013, etc.) builds toward these days of savage battle (thousands watched from shore), telling each ironclad’s story through the men who conceived, financed, sponsored, captained, and sailed it. Especially memorable are the author’s tightly focused profiles of the desperate Confederate Naval Secretary Stephen Mallory and his harried counterpart, Gideon Welles; indefatigable Connecticut entrepreneur and lobbyist Cornelius Bushnell, who championed the Monitor’s innovative designer, the brilliant, prickly John Ericsson; John Dahlgren, “the father of naval ordnance”; and the Merrimack’s squabbling co-creators, John Brooke and John Porter; Franklin Buchanan, the Merrimack’s aggressive, first-day captain, and the Monitor’s skipper, John Worden, who emerged from the four-hour battle sightless in one eye. Snow’s energetic account encompasses issues large and small, including discussions of arms and armament; the origin of the word “splinter”; the battle’s inconclusive end; a Southern joke of the day (“Iron-plated?” “Sir, our navy is barely contem-plated”); Lincoln’s special interest in the Union’s ironclad; the difference between shells and solid shot, the “mystery” of the Merrimack’s name; and the enthusiastic Monitor fever that swept the relieved, almost giddy North.

A few notable naval battles changed the course of wars, even history, but the clash at Hampton Roads transformed the nature of warfare itself and offered a glimpse of the “grim modernity” Snow vividly captures.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-9418-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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