A gripping account of the aftermath of Britain’s revolution, during which both sides fought for justice and Christianity and...

KILLERS OF THE KING

THE MEN WHO DARED TO EXECUTE CHARLES I

C.V. Wedgwood’s masterwork told this story in three volumes, but Britain’s Charles I (1600-1649) loses his head on Page 55 of this fascinating, one-volume account in which British historian Spencer (Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier, 2008, etc.) describes what happened afterward.

Stubborn and authoritarian, Charles provoked a rebellion that ended in his defeat, capture, trial and execution. Nearly 60 of the 83 “commissioners” who conducted Charles’ trial signed his death warrant. Careful to observe bureaucratic niceties, they carefully preserved the warrant and all records, a move that proved to be a bonanza for historians as well as Royalists on their return 10 years later. Before assuming his father’s throne in 1660 (following Oliver Cromwell’s death two years earlier), Charles II issued his famous Declaration of Breda, proclaiming general forgiveness for those who declared their loyalty “excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament”—a big loophole. Readers will initially be sympathetic to Royalists who suffered under the republic, which treated Charles I badly, executing him after a distinctly Stalin-esque show trial. However, they will reverse their sympathies as Charles II and a new Parliament, dominated by Royalists, wreaked vengeance. Spencer recounts the mostly dismal fates of the surviving regicides. Thirteen were tried (in equally Stalin-esque settings) and executed, mostly by drawing and quartering, a gruesome, protracted procedure. Nineteen received life imprisonment under awful conditions, and few of those survived. Fifteen fled to Europe and three to America where several were murdered by Royalists, three kidnapped and returned for execution, and the rest passed anxious lives, the last dying in 1689.

A gripping account of the aftermath of Britain’s revolution, during which both sides fought for justice and Christianity and behaved despicably.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1620409121

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 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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