During WW II, Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki was the only known member of the Japanese Navy's high command to keep a diary. The ever-prolific Hoyt (Hirohito, 1992, etc.) now draws on this unusually candid journal (begun in October 1941) to offer an absorbing appreciation of how the fate of a single honorable officer, swept up in a terrible conflict over which he had little control, mirrored that of his service and country. As chief of staff to Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Ugaki helped plan the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, an enterprise neither man supported wholeheartedly. Loyal to a fault, he rejoiced, albeit apprehensively, in Japan's early victories throughout East Asia. Then came setbacks at Midway, Guadalcanal, and elsewhere, which Ugaki knew could not easily be made up for. When US interceptors ambushed and killed Yamamoto, Ugaki was traveling in a second plane that also was shot down—but the warrior survived, recuperated, and eventually returned to sea. His flagship was shot out from under him, however, during the battle of Leyte Gulf. Back in Japan by the fall of 1944, Ugaki was chosen to direct naval efforts to provide the home islands with air defense. ``Special attack'' units—a euphemism for squadrons sent on suicide missions—were integral to this program. But while the kamikazes took a significant toll on American vessels, there was no stopping the Allies. When the end came after the two atom bombings, Ugaki defied his beloved emperor (who had instructed the Japanese military to lay down its arms) to keep faith with the hundreds of young men he had sent to their deaths. Shortly after the surrender broadcast, Ugaki flew from Kyushu toward Okinawa, where US night fighters on routine patrol shot him out of the sky before he could damage Allied ships. An insider's intriguing perspectives on an ill-starred belligerency, plus savvy commentary and continuity from a veteran military historian.

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-275-94067-5

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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.



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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