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

TILL WE HAVE BUILT JERUSALEM

ARCHITECTS OF A NEW CITY

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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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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Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

A highly instructive exploration of “current affairs and…the immediate future of human societies.”

Having produced an international bestseller about human origins (Sapiens, 2015, etc.) and avoided the sophomore jinx writing about our destiny (Homo Deus, 2017), Harari (History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) proves that he has not lost his touch, casting a brilliantly insightful eye on today’s myriad crises, from Trump to terrorism, Brexit to big data. As the author emphasizes, “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Every person, group, and nation has its own tales and myths.” Three grand stories once predicted the future. World War II eliminated the fascist story but stimulated communism for a few decades until its collapse. The liberal story—think democracy, free markets, and globalism—reigned supreme for a decade until the 20th-century nasties—dictators, populists, and nationalists—came back in style. They promote jingoism over international cooperation, vilify the opposition, demonize immigrants and rival nations, and then win elections. “A bit like the Soviet elites in the 1980s,” writes Harari, “liberals don’t understand how history deviates from its preordained course, and they lack an alternative prism through which to interpret reality.” The author certainly understands, and in 21 painfully astute essays, he delivers his take on where our increasingly “post-truth” world is headed. Human ingenuity, which enables us to control the outside world, may soon re-engineer our insides, extend life, and guide our thoughts. Science-fiction movies get the future wrong, if only because they have happy endings. Most readers will find Harari’s narrative deliciously reasonable, including his explanation of the stories (not actually true but rational) of those who elect dictators, populists, and nationalists. His remedies for wildly disruptive technology (biotech, infotech) and its consequences (climate change, mass unemployment) ring true, provided nations act with more good sense than they have shown throughout history.

Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51217-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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