An excellent teaching tool, perfect for libraries.



Noted academics, scholars, editors, and historians contribute to a collection of fresh, provocative essays on the Civil War, first published in digital form by the New York Times.

Times’ editors Risen (American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit, 2015, etc.) and Kalogerakis team up with Widmer (Director, John Carter Brown Library/Brown Univ.; Brown: The History of an Idea, 2015, etc.) for a beautifully laid-out and organized version of their online Disunion blog, which ran until 2015. Featuring a foreword by Ken Burns, who speaks to the persistent relevance of the Civil War as an initial but never satisfactory way of atoning for our original sin, the book elicits contemporary voices wrestling with internal conflicts that still haunt Americans today: as Widmer writes, “anger at the federal government, unresolved racial tensions, simple helplessness before the constant onslaught of a 24-7 communications grid that matured during the war.” Each of the 10 chapters contains around 10 essays, from the first chapter, “Secession” (e.g., “The Strange Victory of the Palmetto State” by Manisha Sinha), to “The Battlefield” (e.g., “Humanity and Hope in a Southern Prison” by Peter Cozzens) to “Abraham Lincoln and the Federal Government” (e.g., “The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Salmon P. Chase” by Rick Beard) to the final chapter, “Consequences” (e.g., “Remembering the Gettysburg Address” by Joshua Zeitz). Widmer writes of the “liberating” form (for academics) of these punchy, original essays written for a “digital commons,” and indeed they spread the net widely for some surprising moments of erudition, such as Melinda Miller and Rachel Smith Purvis’ essay about the Cherokee leaders producing their own emancipation acts in the wake of Lincoln’s in February 1863 (“The Cherokees Free Their Slaves”). Also notable are Crystal N. Feimster’s “Rape and Justice in the Civil War” and contributions by scholars Adam Goodheart, Jon Grinspan, Paul Finkelman, and Harold Holzer.

An excellent teaching tool, perfect for libraries.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-062183-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.



The story of a national park might seem a niche subject, but OnEarth magazine editor Black (Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection, 2006, etc.) surrounds it with a colorful, stormy, often-distressing history of our northern mountain states.

The author begins with Lewis and Clark, whose 1804–06 expedition passed nearby but brought back only rumors of odd geological events. The northern Rockies remained a backwater for another half-century. Almost no one but fur traders took an interest for the first 30 years; wagon trains pouring west after 1840 passed well to the south. By the 1850s gold mining and ranching produced settlers, quickly followed by the Army, both anxious to eliminate the Indians. Black provides painful details of 20 years of conflict that accomplished this goal. Lacking gold or good grazing, the Yellowstone area attracted few settlers, but visitors brought back tales of wondrous geysers, boiling springs and breathtaking scenery. In 1869 the small, privately funded Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition produced such a tantalizing report that Montana residents organized a large expedition. That expedition spent a month exploring, resulting in a torrent of publicity that led to the federally funded Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Its enthusiastic report included historical photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, and the resulting publicity persuaded Congress to create the world’s first national park in 1872. Congress did not, however, provide money, so vandalism, poaching and commercial exploitation flourished until 1886 when the Army moved in. It did not leave until the new National Park Service took over in 1918.

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-38319-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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A sturdy companion to Michael Lieder and Jake Page’s Wild Justice (1997)—highly recommended for readers interested in Native...



A solid case study in an emerging trend: American Indian lawyers’ use of the courts to extract rights and dollars hidden away in long-forgotten treaties.

When William Clark saw the fall run of salmon on the Columbia River, writes freelance journalist VanDevelder, he exclaimed that he could cross from bank to bank on their backs without ever touching water. In 1991, only a single salmon made the journey to an Idaho lake; it was “stuffed, shellacked, and mounted on a pine board and hung in the governor’s office in the Idaho statehouse in Boise.” Its fate aptly describes a subtext of VanDevelder’s narrative, for there was a time when Social Darwinists in the American government hoped that the Indians, dispossessed of their land and stripped of their traditions, would simply fade away. In 1945, that thinking seemed a factor in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to create a vast diversion dam across the Missouri River in North Dakota, one that would flood lands claimed by the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan peoples, who had helped Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804–5 and regretted it ever since. The dam was built, despite the protestations of Indian delegations to the US Congress, displacing thousands of Indians—including the family of Raymond Cross, who would grow up to attend Yale Law and who would take a vigorous interest in redressing the wrongs visited on his people. So he has done, battling the likes of Justices Rehnquist and Scalia, whom Cross characterizes as “an ideological tag team and throwback to another century.” Despite setbacks, writes VanDevelder, Cross and other Indian attorneys have been hitting hard, reasserting Indian rights and throwing unschooled judges into confusion as “Federal courts are now routinely asked to sort through the myriad of conflicting conditions to divine what tribal leaders understood at the time [a given] treaty was made.”

A sturdy companion to Michael Lieder and Jake Page’s Wild Justice (1997)—highly recommended for readers interested in Native American issues.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-89689-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

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