This faithful, detailed expansion of a pilot’s journal will make a worthwhile addition to the library of any World War II...

PINKY

THE STORY OF NORTH DAKOTA’S FIRST AERIAL COMBAT ACE ON GUADALCANAL

Hook (Desert Storm Diary, 2013, etc.) sifts through the pieces of a World War II ace pilot’s life and death.

To form this story, Hook collects the wartime diary of Francis “Pinky” Register, a World War II Navy pilot from North Dakota, and contemporaneous articles, letters and reports; Hook also conducted his own extensive research and got considerable help from Register’s surviving brother, Bill. The end result is the story of Register’s life, from his aerial beginnings in Civil Aeronautics Association courses taught by Hook’s father to Register leaving his wife for life at sea just a few months after their wedding and his eventual death in aerial combat on the Aleutian island of Attu. Hook isn’t shy about becoming part of the story, discussing his research process and occasionally inserting brief personal anecdotes, such as his father’s 1939 prediction that scrap metal sent to Japan would soon come back at the United States. Hook’s presence as tour guide gives him a chance to explain the greater context that Register’s diaries don’t always address, orienting readers to the significance of the battles Register fought over Guadalcanal and Attu. Register’s many close calls, including bluffing his way past enemy fighters when his guns ran empty, bring home the fact that skill and bravado weren’t enough to make an ace fighter pilot. Luck was essential, too, and Register had plenty of it. This work is undeniably engaging up until the moment Hook inserts his own political and cultural views: e.g., “I don’t see [pride] in our liberal colleges and universities where teachers who have never been exposed to the real evils that are out there in the world pass on their ignorant philosophies to our youth.” That line of thought may be off-putting to those who don’t share the author’s views, but after a few pages, he returns to his coverage of Register’s story. The material is researched and verified, although some historians may cringe at the repeated use of Wikipedia as an authoritative source.

This faithful, detailed expansion of a pilot’s journal will make a worthwhile addition to the library of any World War II buff.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492881704

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 27, 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...

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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