A curious combination of convincing historical analysis, poetry, and art.



A creative approach to the seemingly bizarre circumstances surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Undoubtedly, Kennedy’s murder on Nov. 22, 1963, is a wound in America’s national psyche that hasn’t healed. Salerian (POEMS and Paintings for 20,000 Doctors, 2015, etc.) takes this sad truth a step further by classifying it as a tragedy of global proportions. He writes of his own personal reaction in the preface: “I was 16, then living in Istanbul, Turkey, and I cried when JFK died….JFK had given me—and the rest of the planet—hope for a better world.” He then proceeds to dismantle the official narrative of Kennedy’s death through a series of concise chapters with titles such as, “What the Secret Service has to tell us,” “Understanding photograph reconstruction,” and “Premature Deaths of Witnesses and Reporters.” The author even provocatively suggests the term “cerebro-genocide” to describe the obstacles preventing a thorough investigation of what he sees as lingering inconsistencies. He’s eventually led to “the conclusion that many intellectuals with crucial information about JFK’s death were silenced.” Unfortunately, sometimes-faulty punctuation, as well as missing or misspelled words (“By was of summary”), may distract readers, but overall, Salerian still manages to construct a convincing argument. This text may be most valuable as a primer for younger readers who are unfamiliar with the political landscape of the early 1960s and the forces at play around the time of the puzzling, maddening event. What sets this book apart from others of its type is its inclusion of original artwork and poetry; it contrasts nicely with the forensic quality of the prose, yet also draws out its emotional underpinnings. The paintings are mostly untitled, boldly colored, and abstract, and the poems feature narrow columns of text and a plaintive voice calling for peace, justice, and transparency. Fittingly, the first verse of “Naked Village” reads: “Why not to build / A different world / One village at a time / A transparent village / Every nail every stone / Glass columns / Civil servants / And the Army / All naked / Naked weapons / No secrets / No secret tools.”

A curious combination of convincing historical analysis, poetry, and art.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5169-0916-2

Page Count: 164

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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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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