American history meets the “snap, crackle and pop of lively online writing” in this outstanding serialization.




Widmer, a Brown University historian, is joined by New York Times op-ed staff editors Risen and Kalogerakis in the masterful compilation of more than 100 short essays based on the award-winning Times Disunion blog (begun in 2010), which chronologically traces and reconsiders the War between the States, an event he believes still remains “a ghostly presence in American life.”

The collection sequentially launches with the secession crisis and moves through the Emancipation Proclamation, and the offerings are wonderfully multifarious. History scholar Louis Masur’s insightful essay factors Lincoln’s presidential election into the fray as deftly as Susan Schulten ably explores the war from a geographical perspective. War historian Adam Goodheart’s contributions are consistent standouts and include a rich sketch of Harriet Tubman and pensive words about slaves at Christmastime. William Freehling considers the secession’s impact through Confederate Gen. George Wythe Randolph’s eyes, journalist Cate Lineberry offers an outstanding profile of Confederate spy Rose Greenhow and a jarring piece on juvenile soldiers, and military historian C. Kay Larson provides an article on the oft-overlooked presence of female wartime volunteers. Uniform in tone and thought-provoking content, the articles are supplemented by actual diary entries, artifact images, letters, pertinent cartography, photographs and poetry. The mood of the era is captured best through Carole Emberton’s harrowingly detailed commentary on the scourge of war-borne smallpox, Terry L. Jones’ deliberation on black militiamen and Widmer’s own examination of Lincoln’s portraiture, carefully manipulated “to give the Union a face—his own.” Each of the assembled scholars, historians, academics and journalists crafts unique insights and viewpoints and through their collective dialogue, artistically contemplates the heft and enduring relevance of the Civil War.

American history meets the “snap, crackle and pop of lively online writing” in this outstanding serialization.

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-57912-928-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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