A wide-ranging look at various Civil War generals and their defeats, as well as their places in the accepted Civil War history, edited by Texas Christian University historian Woodworth (Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns, 1998). Woodworth’s contributors, academics from throughout the US, look at how and why a variety of Northern and Southern generals were defeated and what those defeats did to their military careers. The generals studied, including such notables as Albert Sidney Johnston, Joe Hooker, and George B. McClellan, are all considered “capable failures,” with excellent prewar reputations and whose defeats make them ripe for analytical study. Essays cover such ground as “In Defense of Joe Hooker,” “Misused Merit: The Tragedy of Joh Pemberton,” and “If Properly Led: Command Relationships at Gettysburg,” a look at both Northern and Southern commands. Throughout the volume, the guiding idea is to look at what exactly constituted failure and how hindsight has shaped our perceptions of them, notably in the case of Hooker. Stephen Sears looks at Hooker’s famous loss of nerve at the battle of Chancellorsville and debunks the myth of a post-battle confession by Hooker to Abner Doubleday that he lost faith in himself. Sears looks at the details of that reported conversation and determines that it could not have taken place, thus altering the historical record. Although it doesn—t change what took place at Chancellorsville, it certainly does change history’s perception of Hooker and casts him in a far better light. As in many edited volumes, writing quality and style vary from piece to piece, but overall, Woodworth offers a worthy look at Civil War command by looking at the losers. (History Book Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: April 8, 1999

ISBN: 0-7006-0943-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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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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