Thoroughly researched and revealing.



A history of Pittsburgh and its steel industry, from the robber barons to the laborers.

In this history book, Perelman (The Regent, 2012) brings together many narrative threads: the changes in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities as the steel industry developed; the workers who toiled for low pay and saw their attempts to organize met with violence; and the ruthless, driven industrialists who clawed their ways to the top. Andrew Carnegie, Henry Frick and Charles Schwab are among the famous names inhabiting the elites’ side of history, while Perelman’s workers are generally nameless, identified more by their ethnicities and meager incomes. At times, this can seem like an odd choice, particularly because Perelman invents dialogue, often in stilted English, for his unnamed workers: “ ‘Where go train?’ he asked an agent in English like the sailor had told him. ‘Over there, Greenhorn,’ the man answered curtly pointing to the railroad station.” The book is stronger when dealing with the documented historical record, and the footnotes demonstrate Perelman’s wide-ranging research. Demonstrating a clear understanding of complexities in the steel industry, he unravels the clashing loyalties of the Homestead strike and the back-stabbing business negotiations, making them intelligible to readers less familiar with the subject. Though the narrative is well-structured, the writing lacks polish in some areas; other times, it occupies the boundary between elegant simile and overwriting: “Jones eased into the iron industry like a male model fitting into a bespoke suit”; “From the onset, the two clashed like vinegar and oil.” Readers willing to accommodate such narrative flourishes will find the book a useful addition to the shelves of American industrial history and a valuable guide to both primary and secondary sources, as well as a vivid depiction of some of the 19th century’s most ambitious, contradictory tycoons.

Thoroughly researched and revealing.

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497341401

Page Count: 222

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 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...


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.



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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