ATHENS

A PORTRAIT OF THE CITY IN ITS GOLDEN AGE

In a broader and more thorough, though less lively, treatment of classical Athens than James Davidson’s Courtesans and Fishcakes (see p. 943), Meier (Ancient History/Univ. of Munich) methodically examines the brief flash of brilliance that was Athens, from its victory over the Persians at Marathon in 490 b.c. through the death of Socrates four generations later. Athens during its Golden Age gave birth to Western traditions of democracy, philosophy, natural science, and literary and fine arts. During much of this period, it was an important Mediterranean political power as well. Meier presents a complete picture of the rise and fall of this extraordinary phenomenon. Blessed with a vigorous political culture and brilliant leaders like Militiades, the victor of Marathon, and Pericles, who led the city-state through its most powerful period, Athens developed a naval power unmatched by any in Greece, including Sparta, the dominant military power and Athens’ rival. Athenian naval might was instrumental in the defeat of the Persian fleet off Salamis in 480 b.c., and after the defeat of the Persians Greece divided into Athenian and Spartan spheres of influence. Athenian democracy made possible the astonishing cultural achievements of the period that followed Salamis; Athenian imperialism and overreaching in the Aegean led to a vicious, protracted war between Athens and Sparta that ultimately involved the entire Greek mainland and exhausted the Athenian state. Athenian democracy declined with its military fortunes: the war ended in disaster and the democracy was temporarily overthrown in 411 b.c., then restored, then it devolved into a sort of anarchy. Though minutely chronicling the mercurial political and military career of Periclean Athens, Meier doesn—t neglect intellectual and social history: he describes the festivals, buildings, sacred sites, and politics of Athens in a way that brings the ancient city alive. Meticulously researched and engrossing, this is likely to become a standard popular history of Athens during its century of greatness. (56 b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-4840-5

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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