An excellent contribution to sports—and political—history.

NAZI GAMES

THE OLYMPICS OF 1936

The Olympics are supposed to transcend politics, but this fine study reminds us that the Berlin Games were nothing but political.

The 1936 Games were also a victory for the Nazis in several senses apart from medal count. They had long reviled the Olympics, whose apolitical ideals and independence from ethnic, religious and racial considerations were anathema to a party founded on racism, whose leaders believed “politics guide everything, and . . . politics is already inherent in sports.” Nonetheless, Hitler was convinced that an Olympiad in Germany would serve his purposes by showing off the Nazi state. He spent huge sums of money refurbishing the capital and building a massive stadium complex; he provided government subsidies so that German athletes could train for a year and a half—Aryan athletes, that is. Long before the Games were played, the Nazi machine disqualified and dismissed Jews, including high-jumper Gretel Bergmann, who very well might have won the event for Germany had she been allowed to compete. (Invited to attend a commemorative ceremony in 1986, she replied, “Although fifty years have passed since my exclusion from the German Olympic team in Berlin, my disappointment and bitterness have only slightly abated.”) As Large (And the World Closed Its Doors, 2003, etc.) shows, the exclusion of Jewish athletes did not go unnoticed. A major boycott failed to materialize, but far fewer tourists attended the Berlin Olympics than had been projected, despite the presence of Hitler supporters such as Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Undeterred, the Nazis introduced the tradition of the torch relay, funded Leni Riefenstahl’s film Olympia, won favorable contracts from Coca-Cola and IBM and took home bucketfuls of medals. The biggest surprise in Large’s vigorous book, though, is what Jesse Owens had to say about Hitler.

An excellent contribution to sports—and political—history.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-393-05884-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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