A sturdy, detailed work of history that will appeal to business readers as well as aficionados of railroading and the Old...




The West wasn’t won with six guns alone. Well-greased skillets helped, too, especially in the hands of Fred Harvey’s cooks.

By journalist and pop historian Fried’s account, 19th-century British immigrant Fred Harvey was “the founding father of the American service industry.” That doesn’t strictly translate into low-wage, go-nowhere jobs, however. Harvey arrived in America with practically nothing, built a small nest egg, was swindled by an early partner and worked diligently to build a fortune again. He was a close observer of the restaurant trade in New York, and he understood the value of paying cash and refusing to extend or receive credit, and, crucially, of buying the best-quality goods that one can afford. The result, after decades of Horatio Alger–like self-improvement, hard work and voracious book-learning, was a chain of restaurants that went West with the Army and the railroads. As Fried (Husbandry: Sex, Love & Dirty Laundry—Inside the Minds of Married Men, 2007, etc.) notes, it was through Harvey’s labors that travelers beyond the Mississippi could get a decent, often excellent, meal. “He suspected there was money to be made if he could just figure out a way to dependably deliver palatable food at fair prices without any bait and switch,” writes the author. And so Harvey did. He brought in fresh steaks, eggs and bread by the boxcar, hired vivacious “Harvey Girls” to wait tables, imported chefs from Europe, set in motion the international trade in Native-American crafts and made piles of money while retaining his fundamental decency. Fried’s immensely readable narrative stretches from Harvey’s time into the empire as run by his children and grandchildren, a slow decline that proves the rule that family-run enterprises seldom last more than three generations—and are almost certainly looted and left for dead by the time the great-grandchildren come along.

A sturdy, detailed work of history that will appeal to business readers as well as aficionados of railroading and the Old West.

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-553-80437-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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