Even readers familiar with Truman’s presidency will be engaged by the story of the campaign that came before.

DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN

THE 1948 ELECTION AND THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA'S SOUL

An absorbing chronicle of the months leading up to the extraordinary 1948 presidential election.

In this insightful look at the players and issues that dominated the campaign, Baime, whose previous book was The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World (2017), focuses on the years following Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945, leading to Truman’s surprising triumph in the 1948 election. Without downplaying the seriousness of the postwar problems confronting the new president, the author pays particular attention to how they affected his chances for election given his opponents on both the left and the right. These included Henry Wallace, FDR’s one-time vice president, who ran as a Progressive candidate in the 1948 election; Strom Thurmond, founder of the States’ Rights Democratic Party (popularly known as the Dixiecrats); and Thomas Dewey, the popular New York governor and Truman’s main rival. Truman had some unfortunate stumbles in his first years as president, and seemingly everyone—including his wife and daughter—believed that he could never actually win a presidential election. “To err is Truman” was a “popular quip” at the beginning of his presidency. Compounding his woes, Republicans won both houses in the 1946 midterms by a landslide. However, despite his hostility to what he called the “Do-Nothing Congress,” he passed major bills like the Marshall Plan and championed civil rights legislation, which so infuriated the South that many switched allegiance to the Dixiecrats. In 1948, Truman’s name was purposely left off the ballot in Alabama. Baime engagingly chronicles how Truman campaigned vigorously and creatively. Each speech on his whistle-stop tours was tailored to his audience; a documentary, The Truman Story, and a comic-book version of his biography were released in October 1948; and Eleanor Roosevelt gave a stump speech that was broadcast on radio to the entire nation. There were TV and newspaper ads as well.

Even readers familiar with Truman’s presidency will be engaged by the story of the campaign that came before.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-58506-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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.

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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