An outstanding book of travel and history.

HUNGRY FOR HOME

LEAVING THE BLASKETS: A JOURNEY FROM THE EDGE OF IRELAND

A somber, gracefully written evocation of a place that has been called the most beautiful spot on earth.

Debut author Moreton is, he is quick to say, neither Irish nor American, but instead an English journalist who stumbled on a good story while on an Irish holiday. That story was the long, sorrowful history of the Blasket Islands, the most distant of which, Tieracht, is “a jagged pyramid of rocks . . . which was said to provide the last sight of Ireland for ships heading to America.” The Blaskets sheltered a small population of fishermen and herders who retained medieval customs well into the 20th century and who, speaking a pure strain of Irish, “had a divine gift for the spoken word and an ability to recall the events of ancient times as though they had happened yesterday.” This linguistic and narrative prowess did not keep the people from starvation and want, however. When a young islander collapsed and died on Christmas Eve 1946, far away from any priest or doctor, the residents of Great Blasket (which lacked even a working radio) demanded that the Irish government provide aid to improve their lot. Although, Moreton writes, Irish President Eamon de Valera and several parliamentarians took up their cause, in the end they offered little more than words. A couple of years later, the people of Great Blasket and the surrounding islets decided to abandon the place, as if it had betrayed them one time too many. Some of those islanders moved to the mainland; many others moved to America, where they and their descendants nurse dreams of returning to the Blaskets, which are still little visited today.

An outstanding book of travel and history.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-89207-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more