“We need to expand the prevailing definition of patriotism beyond that narrow nationalism that has caused so much death and...

THE INDISPENSABLE ZINN

THE ESSENTIAL WRITINGS OF THE "PEOPLE'S HISTORIAN"

Well-chosen anthology of the radical historian’s prodigious output.

If you know anything about Dunmore’s War or the Ludlow Massacre and are not a professional historian, the chances are good that you read about it in the pages of Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. If you know anything about Zinn himself, it is largely because he was a relentlessly dedicated activist, somewhat less public than the likeminded Noam Chomsky but in no way as cloistered as the average academician. He was never shy about a good scrap. Indeed, writes volume editor McCarthy (History and Literature/Harvard Univ.; co-editor: Protest Nation: Words That Inspired A Century of American Radicalism, 2010, etc.), “Howard’s troublemaking—pedagogically, intellectually, politically—is now the stuff of legend, in large part because he was so consistently willing to speak truth to power throughout his life, no matter the stakes.” True enough: He was fired from one appointment, unheard of for academics outside of cases of fraud or moral turpitude, though he went on to enjoy a quarter-century of tenure at Boston University. McCarthy gathers material not just from the well-known People’s History, but also from less easily available publications from the civil rights and antiwar eras. In one, Zinn addresses the question “what is radical history?” The answer is invigorating, speaking to a kind of public history that allows us to “intensify, expand, sharpen our perception of how bad things are, for the victims of the world.” That anticipates some of the “Occupy History” concerns of recent months by several decades, but it is also distinctly collegial; Zinn even gives a tip of the hat to Henry Kissinger, declaring, “Kissinger has always been one of my favorites.”

“We need to expand the prevailing definition of patriotism beyond that narrow nationalism that has caused so much death and suffering,” writes Zinn. For sympathetic readers, this makes an ideal primer for that cause.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59558-622-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS

The debut book from “one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard.”

In addition to delivering memorable portraits of undocumented immigrants residing precariously on Staten Island and in Miami, Cleveland, Flint, and New Haven, Cornejo Villavicencio, now enrolled in the American Studies doctorate program at Yale, shares her own Ecuadorian family story (she came to the U.S. at age 5) and her anger at the exploitation of hardworking immigrants in the U.S. Because the author fully comprehends the perils of undocumented immigrants speaking to journalist, she wisely built trust slowly with her subjects. Her own undocumented status helped the cause, as did her Spanish fluency. Still, she protects those who talked to her by changing their names and other personal information. Consequently, readers must trust implicitly that the author doesn’t invent or embellish. But as she notes, “this book is not a traditional nonfiction book….I took notes by hand during interviews and after the book was finished, I destroyed those notes.” Recounting her travels to the sites where undocumented women, men, and children struggle to live above the poverty line, she reports her findings in compelling, often heart-wrenching vignettes. Cornejo Villavicencio clearly shows how employers often cheat day laborers out of hard-earned wages, and policymakers and law enforcement agents exist primarily to harm rather than assist immigrants who look and speak differently. Often, cruelty arrives not only in economic terms, but also via verbal slurs and even violence. Throughout the narrative, the author explores her own psychological struggles, including her relationships with her parents, who are considered “illegal” in the nation where they have worked hard and tried to become model residents. In some of the most deeply revealing passages, Cornejo Villavicencio chronicles her struggles reconciling her desire to help undocumented children with the knowledge that she does not want "kids of my own." Ultimately, the author’s candor about herself removes worries about the credibility of her stories.

A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-59268-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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