From rare-book dealer Parrish, an engaging and exhaustively researched biography of an important and intriguing, though rarely studied, Confederate leader. Had he accomplished nothing in the Civil War, Richard Taylor would still have been historically noteworthy: Gifted problem-son of Zachary Taylor and brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis, he graduated from Yale in 1845 at age 19 and acquired great wealth at his father's death in 1850. As heir to the fabulous plantation of Fashion, Taylor became one of Louisiana's most prominent planters and slaveholders (and, thanks to his consequent involvement in local politics, one of the state's leading political figures). Parrish depicts Taylor as highly intelligent, cultivated, and enlightened, sensitive to the moral dilemmas of slavery and humane and paternalistic toward his many slaves. According to the author, Taylor decried slavery as a moral evil—but not evil enough, apparently, for him to manumit his own slaves. Taylor disapproved of the radical rhetoric of the secessionist ``fire-eaters,'' but, like many Southern planters, he was radicalized by John Brown's abortive raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Though his father was a Whig President, and he himself nurtured pro-Union sentiments, Taylor gradually allowed himself to be drawn (albeit, Parrish indicates, with great reluctance) into the secessionist fringe of the Democratic Party at the fractious 1860 Charleston convention. After Louisiana's secession (which he voted in favor of), Taylor entered Confederate service as a colonel of the Louisiana Brigade and achieved distinction as a commander under Stonewall Jackson in the legendary Valley campaign in 1862. Transferred to Louisiana to repel the Federal offensive there, he succeeded in 1864 in stopping General Banks's Red River Campaign. After the war, Taylor became a leading advocate of states' rights and finished Destruction and Reconstruction, one of the most distinguished Civil War memoirs, shortly before his death in 1879. A thorough and significant contribution to Civil War scholarship.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 1992

ISBN: 0-8078-2032-6

Page Count: 570

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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