Paranoia or secret history? Brewer never makes case.

SHADOW OF THE SENTINEL

ONE MAN’S QUEST TO FIND THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF THE CONFEDERACY

Treasure hunter Brewer’s quest for Confederate gold, as told to veteran journalist Getler.

Brewer grew up in rural Arkansas, where two uncles led him on expeditions into the woods, telling tales and pointing out strange markings in the landscape. Only later did he begin to realize that their stories outlined a conspiracy dating back before the Civil War. The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret pro-slavery organization believed to have hidden a vast treasure intended to finance the rebirth of the Confederacy. Brewer and Getler trace the history of the KGC, which they claim engineered both Lincoln's election (to provide a pretext for secession) and assassination. Other historical highlights include Jesse James’s legendary career and Arizona’s “Lost Dutchman” mine, famous among treasure hunters. Much of the narrative appears to be based on Civil War propaganda or popular accounts of outlaw treasure—one of which argues that Jesse James was two different men, both of whom lived to the age of 100 after faking Jesse’s murder. As their most important evidence, they point to an allegedly widespread system of secret signs and maps based on Masonic ritual, Baconian ciphers, anagrams, etc. The interpretation of such esoterica is Brewer’s forte. Historical chapters alternate with tales of his treasure hunts, some successful, others not. On several occasions, Brewer reports being interrogated or approached by armed men he believes to have been sentinels posted by the KGC. Brewer’s wildest claims remain uncorroborated by discoveries of treasure. Readers who want to double-check the facts may find the extensive notes useful, but the plodding prose is unlikely to inspire anyone not already bitten by the gold bug.

Paranoia or secret history? Brewer never makes case.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-1968-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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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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