An inspirational work of history that touts such character traits as persistence, courage, faith, and compassion.

THE BETTER ANGELS

FIVE WOMEN WHO CHANGED CIVIL WAR AMERICA

Portraits of five women who leaped into action during the Civil War—and whose contributions have proven essential and lasting.

Writer and marketing consultant Plumb (Your Brother in Arms: A Union Soldier’s Odyssey, 2011) chronicles the Civil War contributions of five women who moved into active roles that men had normally filled. A young Clara Barton, a teacher from North Oxford, Massachusetts, who had been working as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., was horrified by the conditions of the military camps around the city and was motivated to begin a campaign to mobilize supplies for them. Her tireless efforts and advocacy eventually led to the establishment of the American Red Cross. Harriet Tubman, having made her way to freedom before the war along the Underground Railroad from Maryland to upstate New York, along with her family, became an active nurse and scout for the troops in South Carolina, operating behind enemy lines. She was known as “Moses of her people” and “General Tubman” for her work on behalf of black refugees, though she was never properly acknowledged or compensated by the military. Harriet Beecher Stowe, an ardent abolitionist, was outraged by the alarming national developments of the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act and wrote the hugely influential Uncle Tom’s Cabin in a righteous fury. Despite a suffocating marriage, Julia Ward Howe made a literary name for herself, spurred by the spectacle of troops marching to write the war’s anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” in 1861. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, had been tenaciously advocating for a national Thanksgiving Day, though it was ultimately President Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed the day on Nov. 26, 1863. In addition to his straightforward biographies, the author also looks at the women’s postwar years and offers extracts from their writings.

An inspirational work of history that touts such character traits as persistence, courage, faith, and compassion.

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64012-223-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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