THE DARK SIDE OF HOPKINSVILLE

Poston, a well-known black journalist who died in 1974, has been well served by editor Hauke, who came upon these ten sketches of black children growing up in a southern town at the turn of the century, then edited and annotated them for publication and wrote a useful introduction. Though the quality of the sketches varies, they constitute a good-natured portrait of life in the segregated South. Told by ``Ted,'' a student at the Booker T. Washington Colored Grammar School in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the tales range from pastoral pieces (occasionally with some bite) about swimming and fishing to portraits of small-town types. In ``Mr. Jack Johnson and Me,'' for instance, B'Rob serves as mentor to the young narrator, setting him right about the history of slavery, correcting ideas received from the town's white power structure. Likewise, in ``Birth of a Notion,'' the blacks successfully protest the arrival in town of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. In ``Cousin Blind Mary,'' a fortuneteller who seems to know everything after a ``night to consult the spirits'' gets her information from a network of black women who work for the whites. Meanwhile, Rat Joiner is a recurring character—a milder, gentler version of Bigger Thomas who, despite obstacles, devises a plan (``Rat Joiner Whips the Kaiser'') to win the WW I Liberty Bond Contest. In ``The Revolt of the Evil Fairies,'' perhaps the most affecting of the personal sketches, Ted spoils a presentation of ``Prince Charming and the Sleeping Beauty'' when he realizes he ``couldn't have been Prince Charming'' however obedient he pretended to be. Anecdotes and reminiscences are strung together to create an evocative miscellany—with Hauke's extensive notes linking together real-life counterparts with Poston's semi-fictional creations.

Pub Date: July 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8203-1302-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

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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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