A welcome addition to Holocaust literature.



One German-Jewish family’s experiences during the Shoah reveal broader trends in this cautionary account by the author of Where Ghosts Walked (1997).

Large (History/Montana State Univ.) writes modestly at the outset that an account such as this, focusing on only a handful of people, cannot provide definitive answers to such big-picture matters as the democratic powers’ failure to rescue Europe’s Jews by allowing unimpeded immigration. Yet the Schohl family’s experience is highly instructive: though moneyed and well-educated, they were turned away from every portal of escape, barred from entering England, the US, Brazil, even Chile by bureaucratic indifference at best, barely covert anti-Semitism at worst. The large J stamped on their German passports—an invention, Large writes, not of the Nazi regime but of the Swiss, “to facilitate the process of excluding” Jewish refugees—was shibboleth enough to bar the Schohls from fleeing, though family members and friends in the US and England did what they could to get them out. More than describe the Schohls’ misfortune on that count, Large details the daily life of Jews within the Third Reich. He writes, for example, that Max Schohl was well-regarded in his native village of Flörsheim, both for his heroism during WWI and for such acts as paying his workers in dollars during the collapse of the Weimar economy and providing needy families with food. Such acts of kindness did not keep his lifelong best friend from refusing to step in when Max was sent to Buchenwald in 1938. (The same friend asked the Schohls to testify to his good character at his postwar trial, a request they denied.) And the people of Flörsheim simply pretended not to notice when the Schohls disappeared. Drawing on a wealth of family documents that supplement the official histories, Large gives a compelling portrait of a family, a place, and a nightmarish time.

A welcome addition to Holocaust literature.

Pub Date: May 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-465-03808-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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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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