Kantrowitz argues convincingly that the familiar story of sectional crisis, civil war and emancipation takes on a different cast when viewed from the perspective of these black activists. The slavery controversy unleashed a complex, far-reaching debate about the role that racial difference should play in defining such core American values as freedom, equality and citizenship. Boston’s black leaders inserted themselves into this debate, using every means at their disposal—petitions, speeches, pamphlets, lawsuits and direct action—in pursuit of their goals. In so doing, they directly challenged the prevailing assumption that “public life was for whites only.” Kantrowitz insists, moreover, that the familiar label “black abolitionists” is a misnomer, since their goals extended well beyond ending slavery.Read on here.
Also in the Nation: William Julius Wilson reviews (here) The Great Divergence, by Timothy Noah, and Coming Apart, by Charles Murray. We've mentioned both these books before, but WJW's comments on inequality are worth a read.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln (Alfred A. Knopf), the latest novel by Yale Law professor Stephen L. Carter.
Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy are more direct: They cite the vampire-slayer-turned-president in their intro to "The Plague Behind the Zombies" (here, in the Wall Street Journal). The article offers a preview of their book Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus (Viking), which comes out next week.
Also reviewed in the WSJ:
- Mark Twain and the Colonel: Samuel L. Clemens, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Arrival of a New Century (Rowman & Littlefield). According to the review (here), author Philip McFarland "delights in spotlighting the secret vitriol between these two mustachioed men."
- Jean Hélion's "cult-classic" They Shall Not Have Me: The Capture, Forced Labor, and Escape of a French Prisoner in World War II (Arcade), reissued with a new introduction and afterword (here).
- A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa (Norton), by Steve Kemper (here).
|Bernard Bailyn (image credit)|
This week the New York Times covers The Elizabethans (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), by A. N. Wilson (here). Also Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution (Spiegel & Grau), by Rebecca Stott.
"Red or dead." The New Statesman reviews (here) Memoirs of a Revolutionary (New York Review of Books Classics), by Victor Serge.