An Age of Sail adventure, pleasantly recounted.

THE REPUBLIC OF PIRATES

BEING THE TRUE AND SURPRISING STORY OF THE CARIBBEAN PIRATES AND THE MAN WHO BROUGHT THEM DOWN

Disregard Robert Louis Stevenson’s rowdy buccaneers, the Disney factory’s lively rascals and those musical lads from Penzance: Here are the real pirates of the Caribbean, and the facts are as colorful and exciting as fiction.

The Golden Age of Piracy came early in the 1700s, when seagoing criminal enterprises reached unprecedented supremacy under leaders like Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard. Cruising under black flags (yes, they really did fly the skull and crossbones), they sailed the waters off Barbados, Cuba, Hispaniola and Ocracoke. When not engaged in battle, the transnational outlaws practiced democracy, equitably sharing all sorts of booty, including rum and slaves. Indeed, the life of the lowliest member of a pirate crew was considerably better than that of a mariner aboard a merchant ship, a hand on a commissioned privateer or, particularly, a pressed sailor on any vessel of the British royal navy. Maritime writer Woodard (Ocean’s End, 2000, etc.) tells the story of these swaggering brigands and their complex maneuverings in politics and business. That’s right, business: Blackbeard, for example, sported mighty whiskers done in dreadlocks to inspire terror mostly for the purpose of ensuring that his financial demands were met—and they were, quite bountifully, until he was decapitated by a Scots highlander during a pitched battle aboard a British sloop in 1718. The author captures all the high drama inherent in the peregrinations of warring vessels performing extraordinary feats of seamanship under the direction of artist/navigators. Additional color is provided by cameo appearances by such contemporary notables as Cotton Mather, literary lights Addison and Steele and castaway Alexander Selkirk, the prototype for Robinson Crusoe. Woodard’s thrilling narrative neatly navigates the Caribbean’s dangerous seas. Maybe they really did snarl, “Arrr!”

An Age of Sail adventure, pleasantly recounted.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-101302-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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