One of the nation’s darkest chapters, brilliantly exhumed and analyzed with due attention to its obvious contemporary...



Respected biographer Morris (Ambrose Bierce, 1996, etc.) reconstructs in amazing detail a presidential election that profaned the rule of law and nearly rekindled the Civil War.

A vivid past portrayer of such diverse Victorian personalities as General Phil Sheridan and Walt Whitman, the author here meticulously fleshes out the character and influences of the antagonists: Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican Governor of Ohio, and Democrat Samuel Tilden, Hayes’s counterpart from New York. The contest, in the country’s centennial year, pitted an affable born politician and bona fide war hero (Hayes) against a bookish, lifelong bachelor barrister who had once dropped out of Yale because he didn’t like the food. Morris lets the reader smell the corruption accrued over 16 years of Republican administration, indelibly tarred as “Grantism” even though the two-term president in 1876 had never been touched directly by scandal. The wounded South still festered under Reconstruction, which brought carpetbaggers into sway in legislatures vacated by disqualified rebels, plus regular visits by federal troops anytime things threatened to get violent. In those days, the Democrats were the reformist party, out to curtail the size and power of the federal government while the entrenched Republicans strove to preserve and enhance it. Blacks in the South were free by decree only: armed white intimidators waited at the polls, and some local codes enabled the arrest for vagrancy of any refusing to work for their former masters at subsistence wages. The negation of Tilden’s eventual 265,000-vote plurality devolved into three southern states with Republican governors, and the fraud progressed from Florida (even then) to Congress and the Electoral College. By the time Morris documents the entire process, with Hayes’s victory declared official in February, democracy seems as dead as Wild Bill Hickok, gunned down that August in Deadwood, South Dakota.

One of the nation’s darkest chapters, brilliantly exhumed and analyzed with due attention to its obvious contemporary relevance.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-2386-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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