Anglophiles will find Bryson’s field notes equally entertaining and educational.



Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927, 2013, etc.) takes us on another fascinating cross-country jaunt.

In 1973, while on a European backpacking tour, the author landed in England, got a job at a psychiatric hospital, met a nurse there, and married her, thus beginning a lifelong love affair with Great Britain, where he’s lived on and off for decades and to which he paid homage in Notes from a Small Island (1996), his first British travelogue. Twenty years later, he again sets out across his adopted land, weaving a great tapestry of historical, cultural, and personal anecdotes along the way. Bryson chronicles his visits to the final resting place of George Everest, a native of Greenwich or Wales (depending upon whom you believe), after whom the Himalayan mountain is misnamed and mispronounced, and his return to Holloway Sanitorium, recalling how the inmates were allowed to roam freely into the nearby town. He expounds on why London is the best city in the world and nominates Oxford as the most pleasant and improved city in Britain, Lytham as the best small town in the north of England, and Morecambe Bay as Britain’s most beautiful bay. En route, we meet myriad colorful historical figures, including an esteemed Nobel laureate who took a side job as a gardener and a Scottish marmalade heir/sexual adventurer who restored the stones at Avebury. Bryson takes a stand against litterbugs and those who would build on London’s Green Belt, and he delves into the history and methodology of British road numbering and the evolution of holiday camps. No words are minced or punches pulled where he finds social decline; he rails against indifferent British shopkeepers and indulges in more than one violent fantasy. However, the majority of his criticisms bear his signature wit, and the bulk of his love/hate relationship with Britain falls squarely on the love side.

Anglophiles will find Bryson’s field notes equally entertaining and educational.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-53928-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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