Reads like the best suspense fiction.



Kershaw (The Few, 2006, etc.) fashions a gripping, novelistic account of the U.S. submarine Tang’s tragic final patrol.

By August 1944, the Tang, a state-of-the-art torpedo-laden vessel under the guidance of Commander Richard O’Kane, had proven itself a formidable hunter of Japanese shipping. The tide was turning against the Japanese in the Pacific, as effective American technology allowed submarines to sink far below the surface to evade depth charges. In just four patrols, the cocky, ambitious, New Hampshire-born O’Kane had engineered the sinking of 17 ships. He was eager to embark on his fifth patrol, to the perilous enemy-lined Formosa Strait. By early October, the Tang had weathered an ominous typhoon, as well as a fall by the commander that left him with a broken foot. Once in the strait, the submarine successfully sank a convoy of Japanese cargo ships, emptying most of its torpedoes. Incredibly, the last torpedo, Number 24, boomeranged and headed straight back to strike the Tang. Half of the 87-member crew were killed instantly. When the fatally wounded submarine hit bottom, a handful of men miraculously escaped to the surface through the torpedo tubes. (They were equipped with Momsen Lungs, which took carbon dioxide from the air they exhaled, enriched it with oxygen and recycled it.) After floating for hours in the water, nine survivors, including O’Kane, were picked up by Japanese lifeboats. Surprisingly, the vengeful Japanese did not kill them outright, though they endured a harrowing period of captivity, subjected to interrogation, torture and starvation. On August 28, 1945, 19 days after the U.S. atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki, the men were rescued by a U.S. destroyer. Stitched together from first-person accounts, Kershaw’s action-packed, character-driven narrative of this extraordinary crew’s exploits concludes with a poignant wrap-up of the survivors’ later years.

Reads like the best suspense fiction.

Pub Date: May 26, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-306-81519-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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