Francophiles will adore this book, and others may become Francophiles as they read.

THE SEINE

THE RIVER THAT MADE PARIS

The veteran New York Times contributing writer and former Paris bureau chief shares her love affair with Paris and the Seine with enchanting anecdotes and insights.

Sciolino (The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, 2016, etc.), who has lived in Paris since 2002, presents more of a voyage than a history, from Burgundy to the sea, traveling the 483 miles on the river’s looping path from the Plateau de Langres to Honfleur and the English Channel. Along the way, the Seine is anchored by Paris and then Rouen, where it widens enough for oceangoing ships to reach the port of Le Havre. The source of the river is the underground springs where the Gauls worshiped the healing goddess Sequana, who, according to the author, is the true symbol of the river. Through the years, the river has been altered many times. Napoleon eliminated many of the islands to ease navigation, and he established the river as the center point for Paris’ street-numbering system. Baron Haussmann transformed the riverfront with bridges, locks, and dams as well as tree-shaded promenades. As we travel downriver with our genial guide, we note that the right side of the river symbolizes money, politics, scandal, and the power of the media while the left signifies freedom, liberty, free speech, and free sex. Throughout, Sciolino provides wonderful, detailed interviews of former barge people, houseboat dwellers, booksellers, and members of the River Brigade, which polices the river. The author also takes us into the world of the impressionists, and in Rouen, once the most important port, we find ancient windmills, Joan of Arc, and the place where Monet obsessed over the light on the cathedral. Then it’s on to Le Havre, the port created by François I in 1517, and finally, Honfleur, which “travel guides often refer to…as one of the prettiest towns in France.”

Francophiles will adore this book, and others may become Francophiles as they read.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-60935-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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