THE ROGUE REPUBLIC

HOW WOULD-BE PATRIOTS WAGED THE SHORTEST REVOLUTION IN AMERICAN HISTORY

Davis (History/Virginia Tech; The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf, 2005, etc.), presents a significant study of an obscure but highly revealing moment in American history—the declaration of independence by American settlers of the oft-disputed Territory of West Florida in 1804.

So much of the political conflict during the Federalist period involved territorial control. Nowhere was this more overt than the first American “Southwest,” which at the time included what is now Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and the westernmost parts of Florida. The fluctuation of colonial ownership throughout the region reflected the larger geopolitics of European power struggles, even as the Louisiana Purchase should have settled any remaining disputes. Regardless of who controlled this vast wilderness, it was home to a pragmatic population of settlers, speculators and frontier opportunists, who lived equally comfortably live under Spanish, French or American jurisdiction—until it became uncomfortable. Thus was the case with the brothers Kemper—Nathan, Reuben and Samuel—who became involved in a failed business arrangement with an Ohio politician John Smith. When Smith ended his arrangement with the Kempers, whom he had hired to manage his mercantile endeavors in Spanish West Florida, a Spanish court ordered the surrendering of the Kemper property and their removal from the territory. The Kempers contemptuously defied the order, in part because they believed the finalization of the Louisiana Purchase would render the decision moot. A series of standoffs with militia eventually led to a full-on insurgency of American settlers against the Spanish rule, resulting in a very brief period of nationhood. Not only does Davis cast a bright light into these murky corners of our national past, he does so with a grace and clarity equal to the best historical writing today.

 

Pub Date: April 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-100925-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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