FORGOTTEN AMERICANS

FOOTNOTE FIGURES WHO CHANGED AMERICAN HISTORY

Renowned biographer Randall (Thomas Jefferson, 1993, etc.) and wife Nahra, an award-winning poet, here offer fascinating sketches of Americans who have unjustly been relegated to the footnotes of history. While not all of the authors’ subjects are truly obscure—most students of the Revolutionary period are aware of Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko or the Tory William Franklin, Benjamin’s son, who was the last royal governor of New Jersey, and of Peggy Shippen, who induced Benedict Arnold’s treason, while Tecumseh and Sitting Bull are well known even to casual students of American history. But most have faded from popular consciousness despite having been influential or even notorious in their own time. After vividly sketching the bloody tale of Tom Quick, who fought a personal feud with the Lenape Indians for 40 years, the authors tell the stories of Native Americans who resisted the conquest of the continent by whites, like the Lenape Teedyuscung, and those who conformed to white culture, like old-time Cleveland baseball star Louis Sockalexis, an Abenaki Indian after whom the Cleveland Indians were named. Besides Native Americans, the authors depict persons who, often courageously, resisted the exclusions of white male society: Anne Hutchinson, the independent mystic who dared defy the male authority of the Puritan church; James Forten, black Philadelphia inventor and philanthropist and his granddaughter Charlotte, an abolitionist who taught ex-slaves at a special school in South Carolina; and Myra Bradwell, feminist lawyer and suffragist. Charmingly, the authors also include an account of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison taking a summer vacation in New England in 1791; rather than showing us “forgotten Americans,” here the authors emphasize the forgotten dimensions of the best- remembered Americans. Well narrated, these thumbnail portraits vividly show the forgotten side of important struggles and issues in American history.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-201-77314-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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