Students of French and World War II history will enjoy and learn from this well-written book.



The plight of ordinary Parisians during World War II.

With access to the diaries of everyday citizens who lived through the Nazi occupation of Paris, Drake assembles a valuable picture of “personal history, remembered conversations, the minutiae of routine, fragments of memory.” Everyone knew the war was coming; it was just a matter of when. By early September 1939, France had civil defense bolstered, men mobilized, and art treasures moved to safety. After the invasion of Poland, France and England declared war on Germany and thus began the “funny sort of war.” The Polish intrusion was a reason to declare war, but the Allies sat back and waited for Hitler to attack them, thereby giving him plenty of time to complete the destruction of Poland. It was not until May 1940 that Hitler, after pushing the British and French to Dunkirk, broke through the Ardennes and caught the French completely by surprise. By June 22, the French had capitulated, and Germany proceeded to dismember her. France was divided into two zones: the occupied zone under German control and the “free zone” led by World War I hero Philippe Pétain and the widely loathed Pierre Laval. Presenting the story chronologically, Drake creates an easily comprehensible, even exciting, narrative. The author vividly portrays the desperation of searching for food, fuel, and clothing, along with the dangers of arrest and false accusations. During the “phony war,” almost 500,000 people left Paris—those with money, a place to go, and the means to get there—only to return to rationing and severe restrictions. The passive resistance, the roundups, the collaborationists, and the young communists are all part of the lore of wartime Paris, and Drake does a solid job exploring how it all affected “Parisians of all ages.”

Students of French and World War II history will enjoy and learn from this well-written book.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-674-50481-3

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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