A solid retelling of an inspiring story.



A novel perspective on American history that focuses on the story of the country's founding documents and the Americans who composed, safeguarded, and preserved them for the benefit of future generations.

American History magazine contributor Puleo (The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War, 2012, etc.) concentrates not on the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and other documents but rather their preservation. Near the beginning of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt had requested that Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress, prepare a plan to safeguard the nation's key founding documents. He feared that Hitler would bomb the capital city. MacLeish had to select the documents to protect as well as safe storage sites. That endeavor provides Puleo with a unique frame for a recounting of the history of the physical documents and their continued existence as well as the revered history of their creation. The author's fast-moving presentation combines the familiar stories of their adoption and passage with those of their subsequent production and dissemination. The Declaration of Independence passed on July 2, not July 4, and the official signing didn’t take place until a month later. Only after four more months did all the names appear on the copy held by the printer. The author makes it clear not only how dangerous it was to be associated with those awe-inspiring documents, but also how threatened they were. Without the courageous initiative of Dolly Madison, for example, it is doubtful the treasures could have been saved from destruction in the fires set by the British during the War of 1812. The drafting and circumstances of delivery of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address helps round out the picture. In addition to threats, anniversaries and celebrations continue to call forth efforts to preserve and protect these precious documents from enemies and the passage of time.

A solid retelling of an inspiring story.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-06574-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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...


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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