MUSSOLINI'S EMPIRE

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE FASCIST VISION

In this odd revisionist biography of Mussolini, Tokyo-based journalist and historian Hoyt (Now Hear This, 1993, etc. etc.) unconvincingly argues that the Fascist leader ``deserves a better rating than he has yet been given in the West.'' Elected prime minister after the 1922 ``March on Rome,'' Mussolini soon established Europe's first modern dictatorship. For years afterward—as Hoyt points out—he was respected throughout the world for the efficiency he brought to Italy. Hoyt cannot, however, argue away the brutality of Mussolini's regime or the ruthlessness of the man himself. Mussolini's Fascist ideology and militant Italian nationalism were, like the Socialism he embraced earlier in life, mere vehicles for the achievement of personal power. Hoyt documents Mussolini's adulterous behavior, which on at least one occasion interfered with affairs of state. Hoyt also traces Mussolini's failed attempts at entente with France and Britain, his fateful decisions to expand his empire in Africa, and his entry into WW II at the side of Adolf Hitler. Reverses in the war led to the 1943 fall of Mussolini's regime and his 1945 execution by Communist partisans. Hoyt tries to rehabilitate Mussolini, but makes several factual errors (for instance, he states that Neville Chamberlain was the son of Austen Chamberlain, and puts Somalia in North Africa) and too many startling conclusions (among other things, he flatly asserts that Hitler sincerely sought disarmament, and argues that non-secret elections in Fascist Italy were an accurate reflection of the will of the Italian people). Hoyt adds nothing to our knowledge of Mussolini and, though claiming to take a fresh look at Il Duce, seems only to confirm that he was a repugnant figure whose rule was a disaster for Italy.

Pub Date: March 16, 1994

ISBN: 0-471-59151-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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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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