A work that manages to be both succinct and comprehensive in scope.



A fine D-Day study both technical and humanitarian.

Before Operation Overlord, involving the vast amphibious landing of 1 million Allied troops across the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, there was the 13-month intricate planning and execution that made it possible: Operation Neptune. Acclaimed naval historian Symonds (Emeritus, History/U.S. Naval Academy; The Battle of Midway, 2011, etc.) has the teacher’s patient touch and big-picture knowledge to accessibly present the truly incredible scope of this largely naval endeavor. He begins with an important memorandum drafted by Gen. Harold Stark at the height of the German Blitz on London laying out “a major naval and military effort in the Atlantic” to forestall British collapse. This “Germany First” thrust was subsequently taken up at the so-called ABC conference in Washington in March 1941, delineating American and British goals. The strategy involved a huge buildup of American materiel and manpower, which was not available for another year. In the meantime, Churchill and Roosevelt cooked up the joint intervention in North Africa, which would act as a kind of colossal rehearsal of the combined logistical and operational nightmare that would be needed in a cross-Channel thrust. Symonds portrays the American generals as childishly overeager for a European invasion, while the Britons remained prudent and restrained; indeed, American inexperience emerged in the first trying months of the Tunisian campaign. As the plans for a cross-Channel combined operation were assembled, Symonds reviews the staggering requirements in shipping alone—e.g., the building of key landing craft, cargo ships and Higgins boats to transport the materiel and men. He also examines the troop preparation of 1 million Americans spread across bucolic southern England in his suspenseful buildup to D-Day—a graspable, moving spectacle of men and machinery.

A work that manages to be both succinct and comprehensive in scope.

Pub Date: May 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-19-998611-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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...


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.



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?