An expert researcher brings the romantic Raj era to colorful life.



A British biographer finds lively fodder from the accounts of Victorian women venturing to India to find a spouse—and the men who scooped them up.

De Courcy (Snowdon, 2010, etc.) fleshes out the stereotypical portrait of the wilting English gentlewoman who functioned chiefly as a means of perpetuating the imperial status quo across the British empire. The women she chronicles in this vigorous study, sent to India to find a husband mostly during the Raj period (roughly 1850 to 1950), faced hardships with equanimity and purpose. Fortunes were to be had for the intrepid young men who flocked to India to work in the East India Company, Indian Civil Service, and other trading, government and army ventures, although diseases and an unfamiliar climate rendered their work perilous. The depletion of the marriage pool back in England left many English girls, those without fortunes, beauty or good connections, facing spinster futures during a time when marriage largely defined women, who had few other prospects. However, in India, men outnumbered women four to one, de Courcy estimates, increasing a woman’s chances of finding a mate. Yet these were not passive women, and as the author delves deeper into their diaries and letters, she finds that voyaging to India allowed many women an exciting outlet they did not have in England. However, the arduous voyage took many months and required hardiness, as did weathering illness and oppressive heat. After hasty marriages to eager, lonely men, the wives were often obliged to pull up stakes and move constantly as their husbands’ jobs required or live out in the jungles where their plantations were located. Moreover, they often faced long separations from their children, sent back home to boarding schools. De Courcy offers numerous, richly detailed accounts.

An expert researcher brings the romantic Raj era to colorful life.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-229007-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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?

No Comments Yet