A low-key, mannered treatment of the realization of a great vision.



Mitchell (Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing, 2002, etc.) maintains a light touch in this examination of the life of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), the designer of the Statue of Liberty.

A proud Alsatian whose widowed mother moved him and his older brother to Paris to further their artistic careers, Bartholdi studied under painter Ary Scheffer and was influenced by the work of architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in his restoration of Notre-Dame. Having visited and drawn the monuments of the Nile Valley, Bartholdi fancied stone as his “mania” and initially proposed to the khedive of Egypt a colossal statue of a female slave holding a torch to stand at the mouth of the Suez Canal, a construction-in-progress marvel by engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps. Bartholdi maintained that his idea for a lighthouse in the form of “the angel Liberty” was in fact inspired by a poem by Victor Hugo. Spurred by the pro-American views of writer Édouard René de Laboulaye, whose bust Bartholdi was commissioned to make, and faced with revolution in Paris in 1871, he set sail for New York to try to sell his idea, especially as newly fashioned Central and Prospect parks needed statues—although nothing quite this large. Bedloe’s Island in the harbor, containing 14 acres and a crumbling fort, seemed a perfect site, but it would take until October 1886 for the enormous funds to be gathered and the statue actually dedicated. Bit by bit, Bartholdi drummed up support from Franco-American friends and the American wealthy, from President Ulysses S. Grant to architect Richard Morris Hunt, while relying on the engineering know-how of Viollet-le-Duc and ironworker Honoré Monduit, as well as invaluable advice from bridge builder Gustave Eiffel.

A low-key, mannered treatment of the realization of a great vision.

Pub Date: July 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2257-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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