THE CIVIL WAR DIARY OF CLARA SOLOMON

GROWING UP IN NEW ORLEANS, 1861-1862

The overly prosaic and gossipy journal of a 16-year-old Jewish girl and fierce Confederate patriot. Solomon was the second oldest of six surviving girls in an upper-middle-class Sephardic merchant family in New Orleans. Unfortunately, because of the assimilated nature of her family, the reader learns little about 19th-century southern Jewish life. In fact, Solomon's diaries even contain a few crude stereotypes, such as an allusion to a Sephardic Jewish merchant as ``Mr. Hebe.'' Amid its many references to the weather, school, food, company, family, and ``crushes'' on both men and other girls, Solomon's diary contains only sporadic allusions to the war itself. The most historically revealing are reports she reads of the battles of Manassas (Bull Run) and Shiloh; the most moving are her frequent pinings for her absent father, who is away as a sutler (provisioner of clothes and other supplies) along the battlefront in Virginia. However, Solomon's involvement in the contemporary maelstrom increases dramatically in the last 80 pages or so, after New Orleans is occupied by Federal forces on April 25, 1862. She provides insight into the harsh rule of General Benjamin F. (``the beast'') Butler, the efforts at defiance by Southern patriots of all ages and both sexes, and the shortages of food and other privations. Editor Ashkenazi (The Business of Jews in Louisiana, 18401875, not reviewed) provides necessary historical background and ``decodes'' many of the personal references in the diary; his afterword reveals the postbellum fate of many members of the Solomon family, including Clara. Stylistically, however, he makes the diary a more difficult read than it might have been by not editing more. Covers too short a period and contains too much ephemera to interest any but the most die-hard students of Confederate social or 19th-century American women's history.

Pub Date: June 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8071-1968-7

Page Count: 444

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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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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