Occasionally disjointed, but readers will quite likely be both charmed and educated by these dedicated, candid, brilliant...

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FREEDOM IN THE FAMILY

A MOTHER-DAUGHTER MEMOIR OF THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

Two generations of civil-rights insights from an activist in her 60s and her daughter, a newspaper reporter turned novelist (The Living Blood, 2001, etc.).

Eschewing the broad-brush approach of many civil-rights memoirs—high-profile marches, mass arrests, White House signings, etc.—the Dues favor a narrative technique more akin to pointillism. In 33 alternating chapters, mother and daughter explain how each became involved in behind-the-scenes organizing, as well as occasional high-profile encounters. Patricia honed her awareness of racial injustice in rural Florida, where the substandard Negro schools she attended could not stunt her inquiring mind. In high school, outraged by the principal’s lackadaisical attitude about quality education, she tried to get him removed by launching a petition drive, a tactic she had learned about from her stepfather, a civics teacher, and her mother, a voter-registration activist. By the time she entered Florida A&M University, Patricia was deeply involved in civil-rights activism, as was her equally brainy and committed sister Priscilla; together they faced jail time and beatings by police. Patricia and her husband, a civil-rights lawyer, passed this crusading spirit to their daughter, Tananarive. By the time she came of age, some civil-rights battles had been won in the courts, but she knew she would have to combat racism on an individual basis every day. The book is filled with mini-portraits of the obscure as well as the famous (Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, et al.). The authors quickly identify almost every character by race, giving credit where credit is due to blacks and whites alike—as well as parceling out blame where blame is due to blacks and whites alike. They don’t adhere to a linear chronology, which can be confusing, and the alternating chapters don’t always mesh smoothly. But the anecdotes, based on family letters, school papers, and other closely held memorabilia, are unmatched in other accounts.

Occasionally disjointed, but readers will quite likely be both charmed and educated by these dedicated, candid, brilliant women.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-44733-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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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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