The adventures of ``piratologist'' Clifford—told with the help of Turchi (Magician, 1991)—as he tracks down the wreck of the legendary Whydah, the largest pirate ship of all. Clifford first heard of the mother ship of Black Sam Bellamy's outlaw fleet while listening as a child to his Uncle Bill's tales of 18th-century buccaneers. Everyone knew where the Whydah sank in 1717—in the Wellfleet surf off Cape Cod—and rumor had it that the treasure had never been recovered. What could be more inviting to a sea-bitten boy? As an adult, working the Cape as a nautical trouble-shooter, Clifford delved into the records of the wreck. Convinced that the treasure remained buried in the sands, he corralled investors with an irresistible sales pitch (``this is the beginning of a whole new high-tech treasure-hunting industry'') and assembled a colorful team of workers—including the Aspen, Colorado, police chief; a 6'10'' mariner; and John F. Kennedy, Jr. Through dogged analysis of old journals—especially that of Cyprian Southack, the 18th-century on-site investigator—Clifford pinpointed the location of the treasure trove, but two years of high-tech digging ensued before the first Whydah cannonball was brought up, in 1984. Along the way, Clifford battled reams of governmental red tape, terrible weather, and rival claim jumpers. But he got his reward, in the form of over 100,000 retrieved items, including thousands of coins and a pirate leg bone (a complete inventory is provided in an appendix). The search has been suspended, but Clifford indicates that the bulk of the treasure remains in the briny deep, for future salvagers to raise. The real coin—filled with the thrills and tedium of treasure hunting; sweaty at times, as Clifford recounts his marital woes, but otherwise the clear winner of this year's Pegleg and Patch Award. (Sixteen pages of color & b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: July 7, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-76824-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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