The gritty details of a chapter of American history that still resonates strongly.

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BEFORE THE STORM

BARRY GOLDWATER AND THE UNMAKING OF THE AMERICAN CONSENSUS

An analysis of the forces that led to Barry Goldwater’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate of 1964.

The era of Perlstein’s Goldwater is not so far from ours. The second most charismatic politician alive in the early 1960s (after John Kennedy), Goldwater was a man before his time. He was a relative outsider who knocked heads with the greats of the past (Kennedy, Johnson, Rockefeller, and Nixon), but more important were his associations with the heroes (Ronald Reagan and William Rehnquist) of more recent conservative triumphs. Goldwater’s crusade was against moderation, and his jeremiads convinced millions to support him. He argued that civil-rights legislation would create a police state; he felt the US should be prepared for an all-out nuclear war; he saw unions as oppressors of the working class. His rhetoric gained an audience, Perlstein argues, because of the many fractures present in the Republican Party at the time. While the Rockefeller Republicans haggled with Nixon (Perlstein describes Rocky as a “collector of chits”), Goldwater waited. He enjoyed the backing of a cadre of marginal party officials, led by expert political operatives like Clif White, who were preparing to seize the nomination. Perlstein documents every backroom meeting, every press conference, every turn of events that led to the Goldwater troops realizing that goal. The troops are what’s important here: Goldwater the man is just one aspect of Goldwater the movement. The attention to detail and the cast of characters is at times tiresome, but will be a marvelous resource for political scientists. Perlstein, who writes for the Nation clearly delights at relating Johnson's landslide defeat of the Arizona senator, yet he conveys the mindset of a Goldwater supporter with respect, asking readers to put themselves in the shoes of small businessmen bogged down by unions and the New York financial establishment.

The gritty details of a chapter of American history that still resonates strongly.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8090-2859-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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