Lovers of Jerusalem will feel right at home as Hoffman brings a small bit of its history to life.



Hoffman (My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century, 2009, etc.) studies three very different architects responsible for the look of Jerusalem.

The author’s bond to Jerusalem is responsible for her quest in and around the Jaffa Road to find the versions and visions of the city initiated by these diverse men. She explains how they were drawn to build in this city and explores their difficulties, artistic foibles, and personal oddities that perhaps are what made them great. First is Erich Mendelsohn (1887-1953), an established international celebrity. He and his wife left Nazi Germany in the 1930s for Britain and eventually Palestine. There, he embraced the “oriental” Arab feel, designing buildings comfortable in their environment, with thick walls and small windows. In Jerusalem, he envisioned filling the entire ridge of Mount Scopus with a hospital, medical center, and university. The second figure in Hoffman’s narrative is Austen St. Barbe Harrison (1891-1976), who left England as a young man, never to return. He, too, was captivated by the feel of the East, borrowing elements from the Islamic and Byzantine traditions, from alternating light and dark stripes to geometrically ornamented door panels. The last and most curious man in the book is the mysterious, elusive, and obscure Spyro Houris. His buildings are distinguished by stylized characteristics: ornate railings, crenellated parapets, and the magnificent ceramics of David Ohannessian. The author’s frustrating search led her through archives, histories of Houris’ clients, and even a possible partner, but she discovered very little about the man himself. Hoffman effectively brings out Jerusalem’s diversity in the personages of the Jewish Mendelsohn, the Christian Harrison, and the Arab Houris. They worked in a period of political upheaval trying to build for committees that couldn’t make up their minds and wouldn’t provide sufficient funds. They are responsible for buildings atop layers of ancient civilizations, perhaps providing yet another tier in Jerusalem’s archaeological history.

Lovers of Jerusalem will feel right at home as Hoffman brings a small bit of its history to life.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-28910-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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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. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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