A thorough, proficient overview that quietly hums a pro-Jewish tune.



A history of the Jewish founding of Israel told through eyewitness accounts of both Arabs and Jews.

By beginning with the ancient story of the defense of Masada against the Roman onslaught in 66 C.E., U.S. Department of Defense intelligence analyst Gartman signals an emphasis on Israel’s ongoing vulnerability to attack by hostile outside forces. The idealism of the first migrants to Zion—those on the margins of Russian society, the Pale of Settlement, who were fleeing the pogroms of the 1880s—was tempered by the reality of the situation in Palestine: poor land for farming, Bedouin raids, malaria, dysentery, typhus, and back-breaking labor by shtetl Jews who had never done such manual labor. Theodor Herzl’s Zionist movement (aided by more pogroms) prompted waves of Jewish immigration that upset the entrenched Arab population, who believed the land belonged to them. Gartman traces how the delicate balance of power began to shift toward the Jews, especially with the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. The author employs extended extracts from documents by contemporary observers—e.g., an account by Khalil al-Sakakini, “one of the Arabs’ leading intellectuals,” of the riots that broke out between the Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem on April 4, 1920, and an early chronicle by Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion, who insisted that the Jews “were neither desirous nor capable of building our future in Palestine at the expense of the Arabs.” The ramifications of the Holocaust and Arab intransigence deepened the chasm between the two Palestinian neighbors, which, despite war upon war (delineated chapter by chapter), has not yet been settled. While Gartman does not bring new material to this work, he offers a tidy, compelling presentation and comprehensive documentation for a solid study.

A thorough, proficient overview that quietly hums a pro-Jewish tune.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8276-1253-2

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Jewish Publication Society

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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