There probably have been too many books written about the Civil War—James Thurber once suggested that fines be levied on...



Historian Davis (Lincoln’s Men, 1999, etc.) offers a thoughtful social and political history of the Confederacy, without the usual emphasis on armies and battles.

The secession of the Confederate states from the US in 1861 was an odd sort of revolution. A small group of Southern autocrats and firebrands, who controlled political activity in their states using the forms and rhetoric of democracy, started the Civil War to preserve a hereditary aristocracy and a semi-feudal way of life. However, the strong sense of state identity and distrust of central authority that gave birth to the secessionist movement fatally undermined the Confederate government, and personal antagonisms between President Jefferson Davis and his many enemies added to the disunity. Moreover, the very process of waging the Civil War dramatically transformed Southern society. As the author explains, social chaos disrupted the legal system, Southern families experienced ever-worsening economic privation, and disloyalty to the Confederacy became commonplace. Rationing of commodities like cotton and salt represented government intrusion into private affairs that should have been antithetical to secessionists jealous of their property rights. Davis (Director of Programs/Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, Virginia Tech.) points out that by war's end military necessity compelled Confederate leaders to consider the conscription of black troops, which made nonsense of the racial justification for slavery. Ironically, he observes, the comprehensive ruin of the Civil War left Southern oligarchies intact at its end. Thus, ominously for Reconstruction, postwar Southern power remained in the hands of the few rather than the many.

There probably have been too many books written about the Civil War—James Thurber once suggested that fines be levied on authors of new ones. Davis, though, admirably sheds some new light on an old topic.

Pub Date: April 7, 2002

ISBN: 0-684-86585-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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