Easy to read, faultlessly researched and masterfully written.




The McCartys lay bare an improbable story of war, fortitude and survival during a little-known chapter of the American Civil War.

The Chatfield Story is a remarkable personal biography that sheds light on the inner workings of one lone Union private, but also illuminates the psyche of an entire generation. Authors McCarty meticulously annotate each letter and diary entry while providing background narrative before and after, so the reader has the fullest possible understanding of the history, events and the subject in question. Fortified with wartime maps, topographical charts and generous appendices, readers are fully armed and ready to take on this formidable lesson in human endurance, grit and determination. The book is the rare intimate biography that is historically compelling and dramatically satisfying. The story begins with Edward’s birth in Middlefield Township, Ohio, in 1842 and ends 24 years later at the close of the Civil War, following Chatfield through the Western Theater –Cairo, Memphis, Oxford, Holly Springs, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, DeSoto Point, Vicksburg, Corinth and other key battlegrounds. Well-known in Colorado, the Chatfield story has now come into the zeitgeist through the impeccable efforts of the authors, who have painstakingly researched and documented not only one man’s life, but also the coming-of-age of a nation during its darkest hour. Chatfield’s letters and diary punctuate a lively and dynamic telling of history that is as much an American story as it is a personal memoir. But the real value of this work is that it teaches U.S. history in an accessible, engrossing way. It delivers an entertaining, educational and wholly enjoyable excursion through our shared past and one remarkable life.

Easy to read, faultlessly researched and masterfully written.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4196-9722-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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