Much of this ground has otherwise been covered, and better, in Greil Marcus’ Invisible Republic (1997). Still, fans of 1960s...



Veteran music writer Hoskyns (Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band, 2012, etc.) peels back the layers of a musical Shangri-La that has plenty of dark corners.

Woodstock, New York, has always seemed more a state of mind than an actual place, though an actual place it is—and, as the author writes early on, one well surrounded by a sense of reclusiveness and mystery, as if everyone there followed the Dylan-esque rule, “Don’t talk to anybody.” Much of Woodstock’s rise can be attributed to Dylan and his backup musicians, the ones who would become The Band and record some zeitgeist-shaping tunes at Big Pink. But more can be attributed to the much-despised music manager Albert Grossman (who “wasn’t a very nice man,” Mary Travers recalls, “but I loved him dearly”), who bought up a considerable chunk of the town with the proceeds of Dylan et al.’s artistry. In any event, as Hoskyns helpfully traces, Woodstock had been an art and music colony for generations. The best parts of this fluent narrative come when the author finds unusual intersections: a very young Patti Smith, for instance, hanging out with Todd Rundgren, himself engineering The Band’s most polished studio album, “Stage Fright.” The cast of characters is stellar, from Van Morrison, even more hermetic than Dylan, to the poet Ed Sanders, doomed blues rocker Janis Joplin, and hippie entrepreneur Michael Lang, and a 100 names between. There are a few clues (including chronological mismatches: Music from Big Pink is much closer to 50 than 30 years old now) to suggest that Hoskyns has bundled up old pieces and notes, but one can charitably surmise that this just means he’s been on the case for a long time.

Much of this ground has otherwise been covered, and better, in Greil Marcus’ Invisible Republic (1997). Still, fans of 1960s and ’70s rock and music history buffs will find this a pleasure.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-306-82320-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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