In other words, a second revolution instead of civil war. A well-made, always interesting study in the complex politics of...

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JEFFERSON’S SECOND REVOLUTION

THE ELECTION CRISIS OF 1800 AND THE TRIUMPH OF REPUBLICANISM

A ripping tale of political intrigue, slander, mayhem, mudslinging, and powdered wigs.

Elect a Republican, thundered a Connecticut paper in the fall of 1800, and “the air will be rent with the cries of distress, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.” The Republicanism in question was that of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, who, writes Dunn (Humanities/Williams Coll.; Sister Revolutions, 1999), “offered voters a forceful platform and an aggressive agenda for change” in the place of the scandal-plagued Federalist administration of John Adams—resisting, for instance, the Sedition Act of 1798, an Ashcroftian piece of legislation “designed to smother opposition to the Federalist regime.” In the election of 1800, Jefferson and Burr earned an equal number of electoral votes ahead of Adams and Charles Pinckney. (In those days, each party fielded two candidates, with the winner named president and the runner-up vice president.) If the Federalists were able to extend the deadlock beyond the end of Adams’s term, then the country would be without a president, opening the way to a coup, or so Jefferson feared. The Federalists insisted that the Republicans’ victory would not have come about without the so-called three-quarters vote of the nation’s slaves. (See Garry Wills’s “Negro President,” 2003.) Indeed, Dunn observes, without that vote Adams would probably have won, but Adams instead blamed his loss on an earlier split with his erstwhile Federalist ally Alexander Hamilton. To secure victory, Jefferson had to win a second vote in Congress, which he accomplished with the defection of a single Federalist legislator. Whereas, in his upcoming Adams vs. Jefferson (see below), John Ferling sees this as a dark plot, Dunn views that outcome as a triumph of the political process, proof that the nation “was sufficiently unified in citizens’ commitment to the Constitution to permit organized opposition to the party in power.”

In other words, a second revolution instead of civil war. A well-made, always interesting study in the complex politics of the early Republic.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2004

ISBN: 0-618-13164-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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