Though expressed in prose that is at times eye-glazing, Brown’s evidence demands consideration and must alter our...




A former US State Department liaison to the Contras argues that the Nicaraguan rebels were a collection of large indigenous forces that existed well before Ronald Reagan and Oliver North.

Brown (Research Fellow/Hoover Institution) is no prose stylist. His text is at times stodgy, even soporific, and manifests all the dreary organizational principles of an undergraduate research paper. But this is an important work all the same. For Brown has done his homework—reading the relevant histories of the region, interviewing scores of individuals in Nicaragua, and reviewing thousands of archival documents. He establishes that armed resistance to the Sandinista junta began in the Nicaraguan highlands immediately after their 1979 coup (before the US had become involved) and continued into 1990. He records unspeakable atrocities inflicted on the highlanders (including an account of a suspected Contra whose face was peeled away piece by piece by Sandinistan thugs). Another revelation: The CIA began entering the picture in 1979–80 (during the Carter administration)—so historians can no longer lay the Contra war entirely at Reagan’s feet. Employing a variety of maps, tables, and charts, the author demonstrates that the highlanders—whose ethnic, social, and economic profile differed considerably from that of the generally more prosperous lowlanders—comprised the principal guerilla resistance to the Sandinistas. Brown describes, as well, the informal pyramid of popular support the guerillas required from their regions of operation and has an intriguing, though brief, chapter on the roles of women in battle (about seven percent of combatants were women). The final third of the volume deals swiftly with the country's history and sociology and with the aftermath of the war and the remarkable elections of 1996, which signaled both the end of Sandinistas’ fortunes and the emergence of the previously ignored highlanders’ political power.

Though expressed in prose that is at times eye-glazing, Brown’s evidence demands consideration and must alter our understanding of the recent history of both the US and Nicaragua. (20 b&w illustrations; 9 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8061-3252-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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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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