Perfect for lay readers who want something more than a mere introduction to Luther.

MARTIN LUTHER

THE MAN WHO REDISCOVERED GOD AND CHANGED THE WORLD

A meaty autobiography of the Reformation leader.

Metaxas (If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, 2016, etc.) brings his flair for epic biography that was on such impressive display in his 2010 book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Despite a glut of Luther biographies surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Metaxas offers something different and special. As in many other works about Luther, the author follows his life chronologically and covers much familiar ground. However, he manages to concentrate on certain aspects of Luther’s life and times that set his work apart. Metaxas expertly introduces the many key players in Luther’s saga in ways that make them understandable and unique to lay readers; notably, he realizes that places are often personae, and he treats the places of the Luther story as characters to be understood for the roles they played. The author relies heavily on primary sources, trusting his audience to read along with him in these documents. Unlike many biographers, Metaxas includes the full text of all 95 Theses (the key to the Reformation’s birth) in the middle of the book, devoting nine pages to them. Elsewhere, readers find an entire letter to Pope Leo X, who excommunicated Luther, and lengthy excerpts from other key source material. Most importantly, Metaxas shares rarely told stories about his subject, adding depth to an understanding of his life. He spends dozens of pages retelling Luther’s decision to marry and the details of his married life, details that are often a mere mention in other biographies. Finally, the Metaxas flair for dramatic language is on full display: “It is indeed as though every medieval mountain were uprooted and the whole Potemkin range of them cast into the heart of the sea….The curtain was whisked back and the papal Oz exposed as a fraud, frantically pulling his ecclesiastical levers.”

Perfect for lay readers who want something more than a mere introduction to Luther.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98001-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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