THE LAST ISLAND

DISCOVERY, DEFIANCE, AND THE MOST ELUSIVE TRIBE ON EARTH

A thrilling book that will leave you contemplating the concept of civilization.

A study of the Indigenous peoples on an island that “has almost wholly eluded” the outside world.

In this compelling account, Goodheart, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening, takes readers to the Andaman Islands, a remote Indian archipelago located in the Bay of Bengal. The inhabitants of these islands lived largely in isolation prior to the establishment of a British penal colony in 1858, unsurprisingly bringing with them a series of epidemics to the Native peoples. Goodheart focuses on North Sentinel Island, located at the southwestern tip of the archipelago, whose hunter-gatherer inhabitants have been particularly resistant to outsider interference and are often mistaken for cannibals. While the origins of the Sentinelese are unclear, their branch of the human species remained separate from others for perhaps 50,000 years. In 2018, North Sentinel Island drew the attention of the world following the death of John Chau, an American missionary who was killed by the Sentinelese when he visited the island in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. Goodheart recounts stories of individuals who have been drawn to the Andaman Islands as well as stories from his own two expeditions. He reveals disturbing details about the 1879 visit by Maurice Vidal Portman, replete with images that Portman captured. According to his diaries, Portman admitted his efforts to befriend the Sentinelese were unsuccessful and had in fact “increase[ed] their general terror of, and hostility to, all comers.” Goodheart ably captures the mystery of the place. “When I started thinking about North Sentinel Island,” he writes, “I saw it as a place somehow exempt from this conception of time, a place that both was history and also lay outside history.” Nonetheless, time has taken a toll: In 1858, the population of the Andaman Islands was estimated to be roughly 5,000. By 1931, it was 460, with the Sentinelese perhaps numbering “fifty souls.”

A thrilling book that will leave you contemplating the concept of civilization.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781567926828

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

NIGHT

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

TOMBSTONE

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

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

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. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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