A captivating account of a surprisingly little-known period that will educate even sophisticated readers.




Riveting history of the two years between Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown and the 1783 peace treaty that ended the Revolution.

Popular accounts assert that America won the war at Yorktown, but Washington didn’t think so, and historian Fleming (The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee, 2006, etc.) demonstrates how right he was. As the general feared, the colonies celebrated and then, if possible, paid even less attention to his unpaid, shrinking, often mutinous army. Although Washington gets the credit, Yorktown was largely the work of our French allies, who fielded 29,000 soldiers alongside 9,000 Americans. Immediately after Yorktown, the French fleet (which made victory possible) sailed off with many of those troops, never to return. The remainder of the French announced they would spend the winter on the spot, despite Washington’s pleas to march south. The British still controlled Georgia and much of the Carolinas, meaning that a future peace treaty might retain them as British colonies. The same was true of New York, whose largest city was occupied by forces far outnumbering Washington’s. An aggressive British general might have made short work of that tattered army; luckily, no such commander remained in the colonies. Benedict Arnold (now a loyalist) yearned to do the job, but the British disliked him as much as the Americans did. Washington continued to earn his well-deserved immortality, exerting sheer charisma to keep together his dwindling army, which numbered perhaps 5,000 by 1783. Nathaniel Greene, the Revolution’s most brilliant general, reconquered most of the southern states with an army that rarely exceeded 1,000. In France, 75-year-old Ambassador Benjamin Franklin delivered a virtuoso performance, cajoling the government to allow the colonies to make peace (despite an earlier promise to stick with the French till the end) and charming British negotiators.

A captivating account of a surprisingly little-known period that will educate even sophisticated readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-113910-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Smithsonian/Collins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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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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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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