Intriguing domestic particulars of a little-known way of life.

PREDATORS, PREY, AND OTHER KINFOLK

GROWING UP IN POLYGAMY

An unusual memoir from the daughter of Mormon fundamentalists who maintained the Principle of Plural Marriage long after the church officially abolished it.

“I am the only daughter of my father’s fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of forty-eight children—a middle kid, you might say, with the middle kid’s propensity for identity crisis,” writes Solomon. Polygamy was illegal, of course; in 1945, four years before the author was born, her father stood trial and went to prison, where he served seven months of a five-year sentence. Throughout Solomon’s childhood, the family was forced to scatter to various states and across the border into Mexico. (Typically, a sympathetic police officer would alert them to an impending raid.) Solomon writes of great loneliness; when the family was separated, months would go by without a visit from her father. And while the author’s own full-siblings and mother survived, some of her half-siblings weren’t so fortunate. Without the guidance of a strong husband, one of the weaker “sister-wives” (there were eventually 16 in all) wasn’t able to prevent her son from sexually preying upon his sisters, and when one of the victims spoke out, she wasn’t believed. Major and minor transgressions had to be denied; the family did everything possible to avoid contact with the authorities. A strange car driving past the house was cause for terror. Solomon began questioning the fundamentalist doctrine as a teenager, eventually joining the mainstream Mormon church. She made a monogamous marriage to a Vietnam veteran, with whom she had four children. She turned to writing as a way to understand her past, couching her narratives as fiction in order to protect her family. Just as she made peace with her charismatic father, members of a rival fundamentalist group murdered him in 1977. The remainder deals with the family’s attempts to gain justice from authorities who felt that the murder was somehow retribution for the illegal act of polygamy.

Intriguing domestic particulars of a little-known way of life.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-393-04946-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more