A sturdy tale of Native-White relations in Colonial America that have echoes in Native legal struggles today.

TERROR TO THE WICKED

AMERICA'S FIRST TRIAL BY JURY THAT ENDED A WAR AND HELPED TO FORM A NATION

A seemingly open-and-shut murder trial opens onto complex class and ethnic relations in the early Colonial era.

In 1638, in the Plymouth Colony, a Nipmuc trader was robbed and stabbed by a gang of colonists. Before he died, he was able to tell the Colony’s governor, Roger Williams, enough about the attack that authorities were able to arrest the culprits. That arrest and the subsequent legal proceedings, writes former attorney Pearl, are significant inasmuch as they represent “the Plymouth Colony’s first significant murder trial.” The trial placed several contending forces in motion, set against the background of a war involving colonists and Native people—and, to complicate matters, Native people who fought among themselves, with the trader likely one who “fought with his Narragansett allies in the Pequot War on the side of [the] colonists.” That he spoke English and was an intermediary did not spare him from the assault perpetrated by a former soldier named Arthur Peach, who had camped with three other outlaws in the territory between the Wampanoag and Narragansett peoples in the hope of evading both, having fled from a servitude contract with a prominent colonist. In the end, the trial involved a cast of characters straight out of the history textbooks, from Williams to Myles Standish and the sachem Massasoit, who tried to intervene on Peach’s behalf even as the jury also seemed inclined to take the renegade’s side in the matter. Pearl sometimes overwrites (“His elders passed down countless stories involving brave sojourners unexpectedly tested by angered gods, tricksters, mischief makers, or monsters—and the man coming toward him, Arthur Peach, was a monster”), but her narrative makes a solid bookend to Jill Lepore’s The Name of War in limning the complex relationships at work in a fraught place and time.

A sturdy tale of Native-White relations in Colonial America that have echoes in Native legal struggles today.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-101-87171-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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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