CONTROVERSY AND OTHER ESSAYS IN JOURNALISM, 1950-1975

The lead article in this collection recounts—for those who still care—Manchester's side of the dispute over the Kennedy book, Death of a President. (Jackie had told him, "Anybody who is against me now will look like a rat unless I run off with Eddie Fisher.") The other pieces are essays in popular history. Valentines to the Marines, to the Pacific forces in WW II, and—in a long profile—to Walter Reuther are accompanied by a second category: the gentle debunking that amounts to an encomium. Here the beneficiaries are John D. Rockefeller I, Adlai Stevenson, and the New York Times. The strongest pieces—which recall Manchester's excellent Arms of Krupp (1968)—describe the Bank Holiday of 1933 and a resourceful slumlord. While the banks themselves get off the hook, we have a lively sense of financial mechanisms and historic periods. There is also an appreciation of H. L. Mencken, whom Manchester knew well. It becomes clear, indeed, why Manchester is so fond of a man who truly dared to mock the great, while sharing a fierce hatred of "the dull and delinquent"—a sentiment Manchester vents in a singular essay which turns from sound ridicule of inverted snobbery into a crotchety howl against "egalitarian. ism." The rest of the book, however, is good fun if not lasting journalism.

Pub Date: May 16, 1976

ISBN: 0316544973

Page Count: 432

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1976

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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