A detailed and often entertaining history for academics.

NOBLE VOLUNTEERS

THE BRITISH SOLDIERS WHO FOUGHT THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

An eye-opening account of the redcoats.

Hagist, the managing editor of the Journal of the American Revolution, emphasizes that his subjects are not officers but private soldiers who, unlike sailors in the Royal Navy, were volunteers. Earning 8 pence per day—minus deductions for uniforms and food—it was a subsistence livelihood but secure. Soldiers usually enlisted for life, retiring with a pension when no longer physically able. The British soldier usually receives bad press in popular American histories, often depicted “as little more than a caricature,” as Rick Atkinson notes in the foreword. However, writes Hagist, “contrary to popular misconceptions, few were pressured to join in order to avoid jail or escape poverty.” Some were farm laborers, but most were from the trades—e.g., tailors, barbers, blacksmiths. Their reasons for enlisting were similar to today’s: a search for adventure or to escape an unsatisfactory civilian life. Training was intense, and discipline was often barbaric. Although few complained at the time, there was no shortage of misbehavior, crime, and desertion, but the result was a surprisingly content and skilled army who “were seldom bested on the battlefield, even in the face of much greater numbers.” The author’s research in American and British archives turns up a great deal of technical, statistical, and organizational details as well as personal writings of the large percentage of enlisted men who were literate. Readers will enjoy many revealing stories of soldiering in that distant era, provided they understand that Hagist is accustomed to writing for a scholarly audience. Thus, his chapter on the fate of soldiers at the end of their service is a fine explanation of 18th-century British pension boards, along with examples of soldiers who came before them, but it’s too much for general readers. Entire chapters devoted to housing, pay, and recruiting may discourage those who prefer not to skim.

A detailed and often entertaining history for academics.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59416-349-4

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Westholme Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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