A well-constructed, readable account of a minor Civil War action that may or may not have had major consequences.



Another inspiring history of black Civil War soldiers.

Ash (History/Univ. of Tennessee; A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865, 2002, etc.) reminds us that when the Civil War began no one wanted black soldiers except the abolitionists. But this minority made a great deal of noise, and they kept the subject in the public eye. After Union forces captured coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas, the commander of the Department of the South, General David Hunter, in April 1862 began supplementing his weak occupying forces by recruiting blacks in his jurisdiction. The War Department ordered him to disband the troops, but the groundwork had been laid. By autumn the Lincoln administration’s opposition was softening, and Hunter’s successor got approval for a request to enlist Negroes in the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. The regiment’s colonel was Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a prominent abolitionist and literary figure (discoverer of Emily Dickinson) who worked hard to prepare his men for battle and make their achievements known throughout the North. Superiors approved his plan to lead troops south in February 1863; together with the Second South Carolina Infantry, they captured Jacksonville, Fla., with little fighting. The goal was to hold the city, raid the surrounding countryside and recruit escaped slaves for additional black units. The regiments remained for three weeks, raiding and fighting off desultory Confederate attacks, until they were abruptly ordered home for reasons never adequately explained. Although other historians have paid little attention to the Jacksonville raid, Ash maintains that it was this watershed expedition, the first significant combat mission undertaken by black soldiers and as such widely reported in Northern newspapers, which persuaded the Lincoln administration to order full-scale black recruitment in March 1863.

A well-constructed, readable account of a minor Civil War action that may or may not have had major consequences.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-393-06586-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?