A useful introduction to a complicated series of historical events.




“The history of our Revolution will be one continued lie from one end to the other,” prophesied John Adams. Allison (History/Suffolk Univ.; Revolutionary Sites of Greater Boston, 2005, etc.) aims to correct a few of those mistruths.

In the space of little more than 100 pages, the author covers a tremendous amount of ground, including the complex precipitating causes of the struggle for American independence. He locates one in the much-hated Proclamation of 1763, which forbade English colonists in North America from settling across the Appalachians, and which stirred up resentments even as colonists disobeyed it. Wrote Virginia’s governor to the British secretary of state, the law was “insufficient to restrain the Americans, and that they will do and will remove as their avidity and restlessness incite them.” Allison notes that American revolutionaries did indeed object, vocally and violently, to the notion that they should be taxed without parliamentary representation. However, correcting the popular record, he adds that the American colonists’ tax burdens were comparatively light, and those colonists were generally more prosperous than Britons back home. Such corrections are timely in an era of neo–Tea Party fundamentalism, which holds the founding fathers blameless and the British fonts of evil. Allison carefully addresses the checkered American military record during the Revolutionary War. The eventual victory owes more to France than many would care to acknowledge, but also to the dedication of the volunteers who fought at the first engagements, such as Bunker Hill, which the author vividly describes, and about which he concludes, “A defeat for the Americans, Bunker Hill had nevertheless proven they could fight.” Even though the book is brief, the author finds room to discuss the war in the South, which historians have been giving renewed attention to lately. He also fits in the better-known figures, such as Molly Pitcher, while acknowledging the contributions of countless unsung fighters. A helpful timeline opens the book.

A useful introduction to a complicated series of historical events.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-19-531295-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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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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