Revolutionary War fans will rejoice in this well-written work and hope that the author has more on the way.

THE WAR BEFORE INDEPENDENCE

1775-1776

Beck (Igniting the American Revolution: 1773-1775, 2015) continues his deeply detailed story of the American Revolution’s beginnings.

In this volume, the author focuses on the British occupation of Boston and the attempts by American forces to retake it. The first and most formidable problem was that the Colonies did not yet have an army of their own. The provincial armies and local militias were united only in their common cause, and localism doomed attempts to field a cohesive force. Men from different states would never recognize any superior but one of their own. The forces not only lacked unity; they also tended to go their own ways in battle. Disciplining troops was difficult, as all believed themselves equal; in the spirit of casting off George III’s sovereignty, soldiers rejected all authority. Even so, the author notes that the colonists did not initially intend to separate. They wished for liberty, not independence, but patriotism and a sense of duty were new ideas. It was the king’s attitude that drove them to it. Beginning with a few skirmishes and the Battle of Chelsea Creek, Beck leads up to the Battle of Bunker Hill. In the middle of the night, Americans built entrenchments out of range of bombardments from English ships. English Gen. Thomas Gage attempted to encircle them but failed. In the end, it was a bloody fight and a pyrrhic victory for him. The fall of Montreal and the siege of Quebec seem to be asides in this story until we see Col. Henry Knox bringing desperately needed artillery and cannon across frozen Lake Champlain and the Hudson. Though Beck only covers a short period, his excellent research brings to life the men who fought, providing readers with real, tangible heroes, not just hazy historic figures.

Revolutionary War fans will rejoice in this well-written work and hope that the author has more on the way.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3309-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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