A flawed but readable piece of Vietnam War history, and readers will sympathize with these young men captured in a time and...

THE ODYSSEY OF ECHO COMPANY

THE 1968 TET OFFENSIVE AND THE EPIC BATTLE TO SURVIVE THE VIETNAM WAR

An admiring history of men who fought in the Vietnam War.

Of the original 45 members in Recon Platoon, Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry, 2nd Brigade, of the 101st Airborne Division, three were killed in action. Add to that the many wounded, and the platoon suffered a 75 percent casualty rate. In a breathless, sometimes-overwrought narrative that nonetheless keeps the soldiers at the center, Stanton (Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, 2009, etc.) tells the story of this group of men and how they endured the 1968 Tet Offensive, one of Vietnam’s vital turning points. The author, who has written two other military histories that fall in the same blood, guns, and trumpets category as this one (an adaptation of his previous book will be released as a Jerry Bruckheimer–produced film in 2018), effectively evokes the rush, chaos, misery, and tragedy of combat. Stanton burrows into the mechanics of how men work in teams that of necessity must be extremely close-knit, especially in a conflict as chaotic as Vietnam. The author has a keen eye for detail and uses the words—both in letters from the time and from recent interviews with the men—to generally fine effect. The decision to render history in the present tense is always curious. Some writers believe it lends immediacy where others will see a false authority, but it is generally effective in rendering the madness of war. Stanton does not concern himself with the debates over the war or its legacy; his emphasis is on this group of men and their experiences then and since.

A flawed but readable piece of Vietnam War history, and readers will sympathize with these young men captured in a time and place that few can imagine.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6191-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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