RICHARD TAYLOR

SOLDIER PRINCE OF DIXIE

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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