A highly qualified historian offers a dense, sweeping history of a nation on the move.




A massive history of the striving, riven new nation that emerged from the Civil War, extending to the turn of the century.

As an integral piece of Oxford’s History of the United States series, this comprehensive volume by distinguished scholar White (American History/Stanford Univ.; Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, 2012, etc.), a MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, portrays the United States at a significant crossroads. Would Americans embrace the common ideals of the recently deceased president, Abraham Lincoln, which formed a moral foundation for the future, or would the nation descend into political corruption, avaricious corporations, backlash against immigrants, and increasing class conflict? White delineates how both occurred. Lincoln’s Republican Party was transformed during these years of Reconstruction, splitting between the Radicals and laissez-faire liberals, essentially divided over how overbearing the federal government would be—yet all were committed to larger goals of nationalism, free labor, and contract freedom. While the Radicals were pushing for vigorous federal powers in the protection of freedmen’s rights, President Andrew Johnson, and the recalcitrant South, pushed back to maintain “a white man’s republic.” Meanwhile, the nation was exploding with the innovations of “tinkerers” and mass immigration into the country. The conquest of Native Americans was completed by their acculturation and assimilation, with the reservations governed by religious leaders who knew no more about administration than the military did. As an astute historian of the American West, White offers important scholarship on the “Greater Reconstruction”—i.e., conquering the West by bold federal policies like the railway acts and land grant legislation that created new infrastructure and schools and offered free farms for those able to work the land. At the same time, reformers pushed for enormously important social changes. Wage labor, wealth inequality, and immigration created class conflict that erupted in strikes in the late 1880s, while the concept of “home” took on new significance for whites and blacks alike.

A highly qualified historian offers a dense, sweeping history of a nation on the move.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-973581-5

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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