A thorough study of a parlous episode in European history.

MUNICH, 1938

APPEASEMENT AND WORLD WAR II

The ardent quest for peace sometimes leads to war. So discovered Neville Chamberlain and his political allies in 1938, following their earnest negotiations to avoid war with Adolf Hitler.

Lord Halifax, the foreign secretary, should have known that something was up when propagandist Joseph Goebbels complained to him that British journalists in Berlin weren’t showing the Nazi regime enough love. Halifax, writes historian Faber (Speaking for England, 2005), observed that the correspondents had been there for years and had not changed. “We did not complain in the past because Germany was not rearmed,” said Goebbels. “We complain now because we are strong enough to do so.” Throughout 1938, Hitler and company would indeed bluster and complain, particularly that ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia were being mistreated. Sickened by the bloodletting 20 years earlier, the British electorate seemed inclined to let Hitler take what he wished as long as he kept the peace with them. Certainly Chamberlain seemed desperate to maintain peace at nearly any price, while liberals such as Clement Attlee counseled conciliation. Only Winston Churchill was mistrustful enough of Hitler to reject the notion that the Germans would stop once they added the Sudetenland to their holdings. Faber’s account of the negotiations has its airless moments, mainly because the proceedings themselves had a certain stop-and-start quality to them. Comic relief, such as it is, largely comes in the person of Benito Mussolini, who, Faber makes clear, resented playing second fiddle to the German leader to the north. Hitler was a master at spouting rhetoric that marched to the brink of war and then withdrew to seemingly reasonable demands for “justice”—such as any politician might do, and into which ploy the British played, to their later disappointment.

A thorough study of a parlous episode in European history.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4391-3233-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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