World War II buffs will find this an engaging, unchallenging read.



An account of the soldiers who were the first to land at D-Day, paying a terrible price for their valor.

Kershaw (Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris, 2015, etc.) returns to the scene of his book The Bedford Boys: the Normandy beaches that saw the Allied invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was an operation fraught with peril. As the author writes, Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied forces, soberly observed that “we are putting the whole works on one number,” and failure was a very real possibility. The first wave of invaders took extraordinarily heavy casualties at many points; one British major, wounded in action, was fortunate to be taken away on a stretcher, for “out of 125 men in his company, he had lost eighty-three.” Kershaw’s pages are as densely populated as Cornelius Ryan’s but with some characters who haven’t played much of a role in the historical record—e.g., a cigar-chomping leader of American airborne pathfinders who fought his way desperately across the French countryside and survived the terrible odds only to wind up falling into a weird trap laid by a Nazi double agent at the end of the war. Kershaw sometimes falls into breezy human interest–ese, long on description and adjective—“a sprightly, dark-haired Londoner with a wisp of a mustache, armed with a pistol and a Sten gun”; “Dressed in a dark leather coat, Rommel was soon racing back to Normandy in a black Horch”—and his work lacks the attention to strategy and tactics, but also the heaviness, of an Antony Beevor narrative. Still, Kershaw is good at giving a you-are-there account, and it’s an eventful story indeed, told from both sides of the fight and featuring characters not often heard from: a member of the French Resistance here, a Polish conscript into the Wehrmacht there.

World War II buffs will find this an engaging, unchallenging read.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-49005-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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