The author makes a convincing case that, without France, the United States may never have gained independence.




Financial support and the Marquis de Lafayette were only parts of France’s contribution to America’s success against England.

Shachtman (Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment, 2014, etc.) shares the stories of the many Frenchmen who fought with the Americans against England. Suffering from military cutbacks and reparations from the Seven Years’ War, and attracted by merit promotions rather than their own class-based system, French soldiers eagerly sought commissions in the American Army. Silas Deane, the American agent procuring a commercial alliance for war materiel, was quick to grant French appointments. Hundreds applied, and many were spectacularly qualified, including Louis Duportail, Comte de Ségur, and Vicomte de Noailles; others were supremely incompetent and arrogant bores. Many volunteers refused to serve under George Washington. In fact, Continental Army officer Johann de Kalb planned to replace him with Victor François de Broglie. The Marquis de Lafayette, on the other hand, agreed to serve as an assistant to Washington, becoming as close to him as any son. Shachtman astutely explains France’s point of view as she protected her West Indies holdings, sought a new profitable foreign market, and worked to undermine England. Rather than form an alliance, at first France’s foreign minister, Charles Gravier, encouraged French merchants to ship gunpowder through France’s ports, provided havens for privateers on the sugar islands, and helped Deane obtain supplies. Washington, desperate for French-trained engineers, was delighted to have help in delaying British forces on the Delaware. He relied on Duportail’s counsel for the majority of strategic decisions and accepted his advice to follow a Fabian strategy, avoiding engagement. The author also brings to light France’s continuing pressure on Spain to help. While she never recognized independence, Spain provided invaluable economic and military help in the Floridas and Caribbean.

The author makes a convincing case that, without France, the United States may never have gained independence.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08087-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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