It’s hard to imagine a better-told brief history of the key years of the American Revolution.

THE CAUSE

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND ITS DISCONTENTS, 1773-1783

With his characteristically graceful prose, Ellis offers a short, straightforward history of a critical decade in the nation’s youth.

Unlike most of the author’s previous work—mostly reflective book-length essays on various aspects and leading figures of the Revolutionary era—this work is more in the line of traditional narratives about American history. While both elite leaders and average people populate these pages, no reader will mistake it for a social or cultural history or history-from-the-bottom-up. Nor is it a history of the entire Revolution, which usually starts no later than the 1765 Stamp Act crisis. Instead, Ellis digs in with the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and ends with the Treaty of Paris of 1783. His focus is on the Revolution’s male leaders, its politics, the colonists’ inner civil war, and military campaigns. Little here is new by way of interpretation. The author’s sole general argument—that the colonists’ victory was “foreordained”—won’t go unchallenged. This is, quite simply, a well-known story told by a master storyteller known for perceptive detailing. As is always the case with Ellis, he is brilliant at short takes—events, decisions, individuals. Here, he foregrounds four often overlooked men—diplomat John Jay, thinker and pamphleteer John Dickinson, military leader Nathanael Greene, and financier Robert Morris—without whom the Colonies might not have forged a nation. George Washington duly commands center stage, his character and genius indispensable for American victory. True to his own skills at bringing people alive, Ellis also includes sympathetic miniprofiles of normal, unsung participants in the period’s fraught events: loyalists, women, Native Americans, Joseph Plum Martin (“the Zelig of the American Revolution”), and, perhaps the most captivating, Washington’s personal slave, Billy Lee. The book’s only disappointment is its abrupt close.

It’s hard to imagine a better-told brief history of the key years of the American Revolution.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-898-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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