The author capably records the fading echoes of all the gaiety and gunfire, but he tends to attribute more cultural...

THE DEVIL’S TICKETS

A NIGHT OF BRIDGE, A FATAL HAND, AND A NEW AMERICAN AGE

Pomerantz (Communication/Stanford Univ.; Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era, 2005, etc.) serves up intertwining Depression-era stories of bridge, high society and murder.

In addition to providing a biography of two of the card game’s great talents and popularizers, Ely and Josephine Culbertson, the author chronicles the emergence of bridge and examines a sensational bridge-related murder trial in Kansas City. Pomerantz looks back at the shooting of Jack Bennett, who, over a bridge table, slapped his wife, Myrtle, a few times. She promptly got a gun and shot him, then was acquitted in an O.J. Simpson–like murder trial in 1931 that featured a frenzied media and a dramatic defense attorney, former U.S. Senator James A. Reed, a fiery old-school orator. The author interweaves the tale of the Culbertsons, especially of Ely, a full-fledged egomaniac with a gift for self-promotion. Culbertson challenged and defeated experts on both sides of the Atlantic, and the press enthusiastically covered the encounters. But he eventually became too eccentric even for wife Jo; they divorced and he remarried—and divorced again. All the while he clung tenaciously to his bridge reputation and was not displaced until the emergence of new guru Charles Goren in the ’40s. Pomerantz supplies sufficient bridge history for the uninitiated and includes explanations and a glossary. In the final chapters, Pomerantz appears in the first person, telling us what happened to everyone. He finds and fires a gun like the death weapon, interviews people who knew the principals and walks around the apartment where the shooting occurred. Unfortunately, cliché occasionally creeps into the generally lively text—“It brought chills,” he writes of his murder-scene visit.

The author capably records the fading echoes of all the gaiety and gunfire, but he tends to attribute more cultural consequence to these events than they merit.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5162-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more