A useful history of how “the terror of this unprecedented war long outlived the stacking of arms at Appomattox.”

MARCHING HOME

UNION VETERANS AND THEIR UNENDING CIVIL WAR

This Civil War history begins where most end, showing what happened to the men who fought to preserve the Union.

Jordan’s (Civil War Studies/Gettysburg Coll.) book is about the postwar tribulations of Billy Yank. While the civilian population had had enough of war, those who fought for the North were unwilling to forgive and forget, and they marched in Washington a few weeks after Robert E. Lee surrendered and Abraham Lincoln was murdered. Two million boys in blue had fought in the war, and more than 800,000 were mustered out in six months—more veterans than the country had ever known. In a nation that evidenced little appreciation beyond bombast for their sacrifices, there was no national welfare policy, network or veterans’ service. The Yanks had difficulties getting home. Many had lost limbs, and many were unemployable and fell victim to alcoholism. Illness, poverty and suicide were endemic badges of service. Like soldiers throughout history, they treasured mementos of battle. More than warriors of the past, they united in the postwar fight for recompense and respect. They returned to battlefields like Gettysburg and prison camps like Andersonville and erected monuments to mark their presence. They created newspapers, wrote memoirs and histories, and established benevolent organizations—the most effective of which was the Grand Army of the Republic. They campaigned for decent pensions and federal “asylums” to house those who were impoverished and disabled. Jordan doesn’t need to emphasize the obvious contemporary parallels. Assiduously researched—half the volume is occupied by a bibliography and copious notes—his book is entirely founded on the words of those who fought, extracted from letters, recollections and reflections. The boys in blue who rallied around the flag are gone, but in Jordan’s history, their words survive.

A useful history of how “the terror of this unprecedented war long outlived the stacking of arms at Appomattox.”

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0871407818

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

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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