Demonstrates how political popularity has a bitter, resentful relative who acts as if elections are valid only when his side...




Investigative journalist Denton (Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas, 2009, etc.) follows critical moments in the career of four-term president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, demonized by far left and far right, escaped an assassin’s bullet and a bizarre coup plot.

In this tale of a popular president, resentful Wall Street bankers and wacko wing-nuts, the author has found a story whose parallels to today are eerie—perhaps more starkly than they merit because of the prominence she awards them. She focuses on two episodes: the gunshots fired by Giuseppe Zangara at FDR in 1933 following a speech in Miami and the crack-brained coup attempt supposedly spearheaded by bond trader Gerald MacGuire, who was fronting for some conservative powerhouse businessmen who were unhappy with FDR’s early financial moves. MacGuire had approached war hero Marine General Smedley Darlington Butler about his plot; aghast, Butler listened and then blew the whistle. Subsequently—and perhaps consequently?—FDR cracked down even harder on Wall Street and the banks. Denton’s research, though wide and deep, suffers some because she could find out nothing of consequence about assassination threats from the close-mouthed Secret Service—though she does credit the FBI for cooperation. Additionally, she spends so many pages summarizing the political rise, personal life and early presidency of FDR that the title of the book sometimes seems misrepresentative.

Demonstrates how political popularity has a bitter, resentful relative who acts as if elections are valid only when his side wins—and who sometimes packs heat.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60819-089-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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