AMERICAN CRISIS

GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE DANGEROUS TWO YEARS AFTER YORKTOWN, 1781-1783

Contrary to prevailing belief, winning the Battle of Yorktown was not enough to win the War for Independence. Fowler (History/Northeastern Univ.; Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1763, 2005, etc.) examines how the young country was held together until the formal cessation of hostilities in 1783.

Debts, revenue raising, military expenditure and pensions, political faction, international intrigue—the author pulls together the threads of this period into a fast-paced presentation of what was necessary to win the peace. Though Cornwallis' troops were imprisoned after his defeat, the Redcoats were not about to leave. Savannah, Charleston, New York City and Penobscot Bay were still under occupation, and George III's troops and mercenaries continued to present a serious threat. Even more so, as Fowler documents, because of the combination of near bankruptcy and factional stalemate which, under the quorum and unanimity rules of the Articles of Confederation, rendered the Continental Congress impotent. The regular army bore the brunt of the political crisis. On one hand, every new indication that peace was at hand made it more difficult to keep the command together against desertion. On the other hand, Congress lacked the revenue to provide the financial resources which would enable Washington and his officers to secure the domestic front. Britain's commander in chief in New York was reporting regularly on the prospects for dissolution of the U.S. Army and the potential to recover his colonial possessions by taking advantage of internal strife. Fowler's narrative builds to a dramatic climax on in March 1783, when Washington and his staff outmaneuvered potential mutiny and revolt and secured unity on the question of pay and pensions. After that, British withdrawal, loyalists and other issues could be dealt with. Solid history on the war after the war.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1706-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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