A solid report on how three Eastern European nations are faring in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse. Drawing mainly on his experiences as a Warsaw-based correspondent for Newsweek, Nagorski (Reluctant Farewell, 1985) offers an anecdotal appreciation of the changes convulsing Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland as they make the painful transition from backward Communist satellites to modern industrial democracies. In addition to assessing how well erstwhile dissidents (Havel, Walesa, et al.) are performing as heads of state, the author profiles the younger generation of officeholders and opposition candidates whose activities keep the political pot boiling in each country. Covered as well are the previously suppressed playwrights, filmmakers, and writers whose audiences have disappeared in the face of competition from Western entertainment media. According to Nagorski, moreover, the region's popular press has yet to come to terms with its role as a putatively objective observer. But while cultural and governance problems may persist, they pale in comparison with the wrenching challenges of converting centrally planned command economies to free enterprise. Without advanced technology, commercial banking facilities, an educational establishment, securities legislation, and allied elements of infrastructure taken for granted in capitalistic societies, the make-over has been halting and marked by blunders or racketeering. There's also a sizable due bill for the havoc wreaked by state-owned corporations that squandered natural resources and expanded without heed to environmental consequences. Nor, Nagorski shows, is labor entirely comfortable with market judgments and demands—e.g., showing up on time and putting in a productive day's work. But although Czechs and Slovaks, as well as Hungarians and Poles, seem to be blinking in the bright light of liberty, Nagorski leaves little doubt that they're creating credos, identities, and institutions that will ensure them brighter tomorrows. Savvy perspectives on Mitteleuropa's keystone states at critical historical junctures.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-78225-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?