Although some of these pieces are on the thin side, this is a fitting final flourish for a literary giant of the Latin...

HUNTER OF STORIES

The final work of the esteemed Uruguayan journalist and social critic.

“Writing is tiring, but it consoles me.” These are among the last words written by Galeano (Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, 2015, etc.). They’re from “A Few Things About the Author,” one of the more than 200 stories, ruminations, reflections, and proverbs, most just one short page, collected and published shortly before he died in 2015. Fried, his longtime translator, writes in a note that the author possessed a “habitual optimism about the human condition” and an “eternal pessimism about the course of civilization.” For legions of soccer fanatics around the world, Galeano was known for his magisterial Soccer in Sun and Shadow, about which he writes, “I wanted to help fans of reading lose their fear of soccer, and fans of soccer lose their fear of books.” For many others, he was known for his unrelenting and indefatigable leftist critiques of historical colonialism in the Americas, dictatorships, political evils, and social injustice “in the eternal battle of indignation against indignity.” These pieces, more rueful and reflective and less strident than his earlier writings, still reveal a man who will not sit by when he witnesses people “turning the world into an immense lunatic asylum and an overcrowded cemetery.” He skewers dictator Augusto Pinochet: the “man who burned the most books and read the fewest was the owner of the heftiest library in Chile.” For Francisco Franco, “killing was a pleasure and it mattered little if the cadaver was a crow, a duck, or a Republican.” Galeano could also be witty and humorous. When the stolen Mona Lisa turned up two years later in 1913, “it was evident that the experience had not diminished the most mysterious smile in the world; being stolen only enhanced its prestige.”

Although some of these pieces are on the thin side, this is a fitting final flourish for a literary giant of the Latin American left.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56858-990-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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