SPIES WITHOUT CLOAKS

THE KGB'S SUCCESSORS

Persuasive evidence that Boris Yeltsin, since becoming president of Russia, may have found the KGB far too useful an organization to have tried seriously to constrain it. Knight (Senior Research Analyst/Library of Congress; Beria, 1993) using some of the archival material that has recently become available, as well as interviews and the vigorous Russian press coverage of security matters, demonstrates how Russia's security services have been weakened by the demise of the Soviet Union. There is no censorship, abuses are freely criticized in the press, and many of the sanctions previously available to the KGB can no longer be used. But Yeltsin, she believes, has been readier to change the names and responsibilities of his security agencies than seriously to tamper with their powers. Even the KGB-led ``coup'' to topple Gorbachev—a story which looks increasingly threadbare as evidence grows of Gorbachev's complicity in it—did not persuade Yeltsin to take stern action against the security agency. Indeed, turbulence within Russia, including the huge increase in criminal activity and the events in Chechnya, clearly increased the influence of the security services. Similarly, while the foreign intelligence service was even more severely affected by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it continued to run agents like Aldrich Ames very effectively until 1994 (while apparent KGB ``dissidents'' like Gen. Oleg Kalugin were saying that there were no KGB moles in the CIA). The irony is that Russia, with the largest and most powerful police apparatus in Eastern Europe, has hardly confronted the question of its abuses. The democratic institutions beginning to emerge, she concludes, ``will remain fragile until the security services are reformed.'' Knight cannot avoid the difficulty inherent in her subject of having to draw conclusions from scanty evidence, but this is the most scholarly and dispassionate assessment yet available of a question critical to the future of Russia.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-691-02577-0

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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