Well-researched, with a flair for the dramatic, and full of unexpected tidbits. Military buffs and New Yorkers will...




Military history of America’s greatest city.

Jaffe (Who Were the Founding Fathers?: Two Hundred Years of Reinventing American History, 1996), a historian attached to the South Street Seaport Museum and the New-York Historical Society, begins his study at the earliest point of which we have records: Henry Hudson’s entry into what is now New York Harbor in 1609. Hudson and his men encountered a group of Indians, and a skirmish broke out, leaving one of Hudson’s men dead. The incident set a pattern that dogged the Dutch colony that grew up on Manhattan Island and spread fingers along the coast and up the Hudson; only in the 1640s was a solid peace with the native peoples concluded. By then, the British were a greater threat, and the city became a British stronghold for more than a century. From there, troops went forth to fight the French and their Indian allies, and there the main force of British power remained during the Revolution. After Washington’s troops were driven away in 1776, the redcoats had Manhattan to themselves. Washington managed to exploit the city’s vulnerability by threatening attacks against it, keeping troops bottled up to defend it while he won battles elsewhere. In the early days of the Republic, the city became a center for privateers preying on British merchantmen, then suffered blockades by the British fleet that all but stifled its mercantile might. Jaffe moves on to more familiar territory with the draft riots of the Civil War. World War I saw anti-German fervor and U-boat raids on ships leaving the harbor. In the final chapters, the author looks at the Cold War and other late-20th-century events, culminating in 9/11 and the aftermath.

Well-researched, with a flair for the dramatic, and full of unexpected tidbits. Military buffs and New Yorkers will especially love it.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-465-03642-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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