Shafer makes his readers feel that we are not alone—not the first and, sadly, not the last to be bamboozled.

THE CARNIVAL CAMPAIGN

HOW THE ROLLICKING 1840 CAMPAIGN OF "TIPPECANOE AND TYLER TOO" CHANGED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS FOREVER

A history of the 1840 campaign, “the mother of modern presidential contests” and “the beginning of presidential campaigning as entertainment.”

They were hard times: jobs were scarce, farmers couldn’t get decent prices for crops, and voters were just angry. Before the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, politicians were not that different from today; they just used different tools. William Henry Harrison’s backers focused on how best to sell their candidate, how to disparage his opponent, and how to appeal to the newly enfranchised middle class. At the very beginning, they had to erase the Whig Party’s image as representing the rich. That was easy enough to do as they pictured “Old Tippecanoe” with a symbol of a log cabin–dwelling, hard cider–drinking soldier. Never mind that his heroic victory at Tippecanoe was actually a huge loss after a surprise attack or that Harrison and his vice presidential nominee, John Tyler, were both born and raised in considerable comfort on plantations. The “firsts” of this campaign illustrate just how creative they were: it was the first to merchandise a candidate; the first to focus on an image; the first to hold huge public rallies; the first nomination decided in a smoke-filled room; and the first candidate to actually campaign. Former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor Shafer (When the Dodgers Were Bridegrooms: Gunner McGunnigle and Brooklyn's Back-to-Back Pennants of 1889 and 1890, 2011, etc.) catches all the new twists of the campaign, from women joining in rallies to Horace Greeley’s newly formed newspaper. The author’s writing skills are unassailable, although we could do with fewer parade descriptions. The Democratic Review’s comment says it all: “The Whig campaign was indeed a national insult to the intelligence of the American people…a political phenomenon, so unexpected, so astonishing that Democrats would be wrong to blame the loss simply on the ‘vulgar herd.’ ”

Shafer makes his readers feel that we are not alone—not the first and, sadly, not the last to be bamboozled.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61373-540-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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