A well-researched, engagingly written, though incomplete portrait of a fascinating, complex figure.

THE BOY WHO BECAME BUFFALO BILL

GROWING UP BILLY CODY IN BLEEDING KANSAS

Warren explores how the man who became the most famous entertainer of his time and a legend of the "Wild West" grew up amid a violent regional conflict that would soon tear apart the nation.

William Cody was 8 when his family moved to the Kansas Territory in 1854, soon to be plunged into a bloody conflict between anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions. When his father died from complications of a savage attack after delivering an abolitionist speech, 11-year-old Billy supported his family herding cattle, working on wagon trains, and riding for the Pony Express. Seeking revenge, he joined the Jayhawkers, guerrilla irregulars fighting pro-slavery militant groups. He enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and later worked as a scout during the Indian Wars. Providing contextualizing information along the way, Warren chronicles all these colorful adventures in lively prose but, perhaps due to her focus on his early years, gives short shrift to Cody's contradictions. He earned his nickname for single-handedly slaughtering thousands of bison yet feared their extinction and spoke out against hide-hunting; that selfsame slaughter was part of a U.S. government campaign to destroy Plains Indian culture, yet Cody hated how the Indians were treated—both of these are largely unexplored. The volume is liberally illustrated with archival material, and extensive backmatter supplements the narrative.

A well-researched, engagingly written, though incomplete portrait of a fascinating, complex figure. (notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2718-5

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories.

BOY FROM BUCHENWALD

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

Following his liberation from the Buchenwald death camp, Romek didn’t know how to reclaim his humanity.

Romek’s childhood in his Polish shtetl of Skarżysko-Kamienna, where he was the youngest of six loving siblings, wasn’t wealthy, but it was idyllic. Skarżysko-Kamienna was “forests and birdsong,” with “the night sky stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.” His family was destroyed and their way of life obliterated with the Nazi invasion of Poland, and Romek lost not just memories, but the accompanying love. Unlike many Holocaust memoirs, this painfully lovely story begins in earnest after the liberation, when Romek was among 1,000 Jewish orphans, the Buchenwald Boys, in need of rehabilitation. Having suffered years of starvation, disease, and being treated as animals, the boys were nearly feral: They fought constantly, had forgotten how to use forks, and set fire to their French relief camp dormitory. Some adults thought they were irredeemable. With endless patience, care, and love, the mentors and social workers around them—themselves traumatized Holocaust survivors—brought Romek back from the brink. Even in a loving and protective environment, in a France where the boys were treated overwhelmingly kindly by the populace, it took time to remember goodness. Parallels between anti-Semitism and racism in the U.S. and Canada are gentle but explicit.

Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories. (historical note, timeline) (Memoir. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0600-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND

A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more