A lively history of Chinese-Russian political and cultural symbiosis.



A cultural chronicle of the rich Chinese-Russian interplay and exchange from the 1920s to the 1950s.

McGuire (History/California State Univ., East Bay), who has lived and worked in both Moscow and Beijing, tells the stories of the many pioneering Chinese who became passionate students of Russian language and revolutionary thought and participated in exchange programs over the decades. She focuses on two waves of Chinese travelers: those politically active in the 1920s who were excited by the Bolshevik Revolution as having gone further than the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in China in 1911 and were eager to learn more; and those committed Communists who wanted to deepen the Sino-Soviet “friendship” of the 1950s. The author develops her thesis through the metaphor of romance, following specific stories—e.g., a circle of young Chinese students of Beijing University who were inculcated in the New China Movement and its magazine New Youth, which had offered translations of Russian literature. Newly opened institutions such as the Shanghai Foreign Languages School and Moscow’s Eastern University recruited the first Chinese students, including the son of Chiang Kai-shek, Jiang Jingguo, who was shocked by his father’s betrayal of his communist allies in 1927 and stayed in the Soviet Union for the next few years, marrying a Belorussian woman. Other love affairs between Chinese and Russians helped to enrich the cultural exchange. McGuire devotes a chapter to the legendary first wife of Mao Zedong, He Zizhen, who accompanied him on the Long March, bore him six children, and ended up a jilted wife studying in Moscow in the late 1930s. Sadly, many of the Sino-Soviet “love children” would be abandoned to Russian orphanages. Russian culture, especially cinema and music, invaded China in the 1950s, inspiring a new postwar generation that was “both politically correct, and, at times, hopelessly romantic.”

A lively history of Chinese-Russian political and cultural symbiosis.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-064055-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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...


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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