DEATH OF A PRESIDENT

Certainly no book has ever been published under quite these circumstances. The issues it involves (has history been served? was privacy invaded? were contractual obligations broken?) have already been widely debated. The disputed passages have in part been globally disseminated. And the contents of the book are well known to begin with. Or are they? How many people know that on November 21st Senator Humphrey gave a speech on mental health in Washington in which he said that the act of an unstable person could strike down a great leader? Or that the next morning in Fort Worth President Kennedy quipped that the night before would have been a hell of a night to kill a president? This aggregate of detail, some of it significant, some of it irrelevant (i.e., Eunice Shriver always wears black when pregnant because it is slimming) both intensifies and extends the immediate experience. Mr. Manchester's tremendous research collects and collates who did, said, thought, felt what and where during the November 20th to November 25th timespan. This has the inveterate appeal of private revelations about public people. Then too there's that Establishment word charisma which Kennedy apotheosized. Manchester, one of his acolytes, subdued none of that quality in his over-adulatory Portrait of a President (1962). Here he transfers it to Jacqueline Kennedy, a spotless profile in courage. By comparison, by indirection and sometimes by innuendo the Johnsons come off badly. Dallas and Governor Connally come off worse. Mr. Manchester obviously found the transition from Kennedy to Johnson as trying as did many others of the faithful. The controversial fanfaronade over this book will continue. Historians will question the limber speculations (Oswald was activated by the climate of violence in Dallas, or was it Marina's rejection at 9 P.M. the night before?). But no one should underestimate its impact, however much you may resent it, the unbearable scenes (driver Greer crying, on Mrs. Kennedy's shoulder in Parkland Hospital) right down through the last motorcade to Arlington. Somehow, with no more than reportorial skills at his command, Mr. Manchester matches the dislocation and identification which almost everyone experienced during the tragic events of that long weekend. Inescapably.

Pub Date: April 1, 1967

ISBN: 0883659565

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1967

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more