Joining the crowded ranks of new books about General George Armstrong Custer's now mythic final battle in 1876 is this newfound eyewitness account by a private in the Seventh Cavalry, attached to Major Marcus Reno's command. Unearthed and edited by Martin, the director of the Western memorabilia department of a San Francisco auction house, Taylor's manuscript, completed five years before his death in 1923, vividly recounts the heroics of his badly outnumbered comrades and provides further evidence of Major Reno's incompetence and cowardice on the Little Bighorn. Reno, sent by Custer to flank a suspected Indian force, was attacked and fled the field. Taylor, despite losing his mount and his pistol, and with soldiers dropping all around him, managed to gain the bluff to which Reno's disordered force retreated. Trapped under a broiling sun with little water, surrounded by snipers, they listened to the fusillade of gunshots signaling Custer's last stand. While Taylor recounts such horrifying battlefield details as the mutilation of the bodies of dead soldiers by the Sioux, he speaks with great empathy of the Indians' plight. Upon seeing the body of a Sioux who had been scalped by soldiers, Taylor reflects, ``I could not help a feeling of sorrow. . . . He was within a few hundred rods of his home and family which we had attempted to destroy and he had died to defend.'' Some remarkable materials lend a homely power to Taylor's narrative: statements by army officers and Sioux leaders; period poetry about the battle; photographs of soldiers, Indians, and army scouts; and even a listing of such personal items as soldier's rings and watches recovered from Indians long after the event. This sweeping account by a surprisingly gifted writer is more than a battlefield epic; it is vibrant, living history that easily leaps the 120-year chasm between us and combatants that day at the Little Bighorn. (Editor tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-670-86803-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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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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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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