Not just a rigorous, steady-going chronological history, but also a cogent analysis of the genesis of a defense strategy.

IF BY SEA

THE FORGING OF THE AMERICAN NAVY--FROM THE REVOLUTION TO THE WAR OF 1812

Ambitious, painstakingly detailed account of how the fledgling American fleet grew into a permanent navy.

Despite calls by George Washington and John Adams to raise a naval power, there was no muscular attempt to organize patriot sea militias at the outbreak of the Revolution, largely because the Royal Navy appeared so dominant. The rebels didn’t realize, writes Daughan, former director of the Air Force Academy’s MA program in international affairs, that their strength lay in their humble whaleboats. This is evident in the author’s blow-by-blow re-creation of such early sea skirmishes as the overtaking of the British Margaretta by rebels off the coast of Machias, Maine, on May 24, 1775, a battle that James Fenimore Cooper later called “the Lexington of the sea.” The Continental Congress could not adequately direct naval strategy, while the heroic efforts of patriot seamen like John Paul Jones, John Barry, Lambert Wickes and Nicholas Biddle were squandered on insignificant missions. The French alliance helped turn the tide, but what remained of the Continental Navy played little part in the momentous victories, and the new republic was too broke to fund a navy. Goaded by high-seas piracy and impressments and seizure by the English, Congress eventually passed the Naval Act of 1794, which authorized the construction of a half-dozen frigates—“a pathetically small force,” notes Daughan. President Adams was determined to bolster defense measures, but his successor was unwilling to expend public funds for defense; Jefferson preferred to use the power of commerce as a foreign-relations weapon. The issues of impressments and trade grew increasingly contentious between America and Britain, culminating in the declaration of war by President Madison in 1812. The author demonstrates how American privateers effected some surprising victories, contributing to the growing consensus that the navy was indeed critical to the nation’s defense.

Not just a rigorous, steady-going chronological history, but also a cogent analysis of the genesis of a defense strategy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-465-01607-5

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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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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