An approach that will appeal mostly to readers of military history.



Woodworth (History/Texas Christian Univ.; Sherman: Lessons in Leadership, 2009, etc.) examines the political and military conflicts that accompanied the westward flow in the 1840s and exacerbated hostilities between the North and South.

Although the author’s thesis is principally political, he focuses mostly on the military struggles of the time. Myriad pages and maps deal with specific battles, chronicling participants, locale, strategies, tactics, failures, victories and casualty figures. At times the thesis struggles to emerge from beneath the bodies of fallen combatants, but Woodworth certainly knows the territory. He begins with the presidency of Martin Van Buren, who was greeted almost immediately by the Panic of 1837 and the incipient stages of abolitionism. The author summarizes the brief presidency of William Henry Harrison, with solid analysis of the ludicrous “Log Cabin campaign”—was this the first American election when image trumped all else? He also looks at the John Tyler administration, the rise of the abolitionists, the migrations to Oregon and California and the story of Joseph Smith (Woodworth barely restrains his disdain for Smith’s religious claims). When Texas enters the narrative as a military and political issue, the battle scenes commence and do not conclude until the end of the Mexican War. Occasionally, Woodworth switches from one battlefield to another, moving from the deserts of Mexico to the halls of Congress, where we follow the increasingly hostile debates between advocates of free and slave states, including Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and other era notables. Following a discussion of the Gold Rush of 1849 and the Wilmot Proviso, the author describes the negotiations and personalities that made possible the Compromise of 1850, a measure that stalled the Civil War but did not stop it.

An approach that will appeal mostly to readers of military history.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-26524-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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