A work that knowledgeably readjusts Tammany’s reputation from a nest of corruption to an important crusader for the poor and...

MACHINE MADE

TAMMANY HALL AND THE CREATION OF MODERN AMERICAN POLITICS

How the Irish mobilized America.

The story of Tammany Hall, a fraternal organization founded in the late 1700s as a “voice of the common man,” mirrors the story of the Irish Catholics in New York City, who had to crack the Anglo-Protestant political order in order to make their way. So argues journalist Golway (Director, Kean Univ. Center for History, Politics, and Policy; Words that Ring Through Time: The Fifty Most Important Speeches in History and How They Changed Our World, 2009, etc.) in this politics-laden, competent ramble through the dawning of the empowerment of minorities in American politics. Taking their cues from the popular electoral organization of Irish statesman Daniel O’Connell and his Catholic Association, Irish Catholic leaders in New York challenged the “hostile civic culture” of the Protestant elite by pushing back against nativist animosity. As the Irish population of the city swelled from the Great Famine—from 371,000 in 1845 to 630,000 by the mid-1850s—Tammany embraced and enfranchised these unfortunate masses so that the collective memory of the famine helped spur the social legislation of the Progressive Era: securing jobs, pushing for universal suffrage, lobbying for anti-monopoly legislation, labor unions and land reform for Ireland, and opening orphanages, asylums and homes for unwed mothers run by Irish Catholic nuns. The election of William R. Grace, the first Irish Catholic immigrant, as mayor of New York City in 1880 was a watershed, erasing some of the corruption taint created by Boss Tweed. The establishment of a vast “clubhouse system” ensured that favors and social services were well-distributed and won the loyalty of those who needed them, leading to rampant abuses, as exemplified by Richard Croker’s scandal-ridden Tammany era. The Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire of 1911 galvanized Tammany’s more promising reform-minded leaders like Robert Wagner and Al Smith to urge for regulatory legislation that inspired Francis Perkins and, later, Franklin Roosevelt.

A work that knowledgeably readjusts Tammany’s reputation from a nest of corruption to an important crusader for the poor and downtrodden.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-87140-375-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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