An eye-opening, vital reexamination of America’s founding myth.



An impassioned, deeply knowledgeable history of the “first contacts” between the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the English and Europeans, this time told from the Native side.

A scholar of Native American, Colonial, and racial history in America, Silverman (History/George Washington Univ.; Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America, 2016, etc.) first orients readers toward what the landing Pilgrim scouts at Cape Cod in November 1620 would have actually seen in the environs: evidence of an undeniable Native civilization. As the author shows, the Wampanoag Indians had already adopted horticulture (maize, beans, squash); created a system of governance via individual sachems (chiefs), inherited through the male line; and established proprietorship of the land stretching back generations. Moreover, there had already been a history of violence between the Natives and the shipboard European explorers for at least 100 years, as the explorers often lured the Natives into unfair trade, which often led to violence, and spread fatal diseases that decimated their population. “The ease of some of the Wampanoags with the English,” writes the author, “suggests that there had been other more recent contacts than surviving documents report. At Martha’s Vineyard, thirteen armed men approached the Concord without any fear, as if they had experience with such situations.” Throughout this well-documented, unique history, Silverman offers a detailed look at the long, tortured relations between the two and captures the palpable sense of overall mourning after the aftermath of King Philip’s War and the attempt to annihilate (and assimilate) the Wampanoags—and their incredible ability to transcend the dehumanization and prevail. Ultimately, the author provides an important, heart-rending story of the treachery of alliances and the individuals caught in the crosshairs, a powerful history that clearly “exposes the Thanksgiving myth as a myth rather than history.” Silverman also includes a helpful “Glossary of Key Indian People and Places.”

An eye-opening, vital reexamination of America’s founding myth.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63286-924-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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