Outsized personalities within a blistering campaign render this work a rollicking history lesson.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE ASSASSIN

MADNESS, VENGEANCE, AND THE CAMPAIGN OF 1912

A lively account of Theodore Roosevelt’s would-be murder reveals the roiling issues and personalities of that key campaign.

Not many people know the name of John Flammang Schrank (1876–1943), a German-American New Yorker who tracked Roosevelt’s stops on the railroad campaign circuit of late summer and early fall of 1912 and resolved to shoot him. The actual shooting on October 14 in Milwaukee was superficial, unlike that 11 years earlier of President William McKinley, assassinating him and thus leaving Roosevelt as president. Yet Roosevelt’s shooting certainly yanked American politics into the modern era and revealed the courage of the irrepressible victim. In this light-pedaling, accessible study, Helferich (Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya, 2011, etc.) creates several wonderful character studies: of Roosevelt, whom he calls either the Colonel or “the third termer,” to designate the focus of Schrank’s rage against him in putting himself up for election to a third (nonconsecutive) term; of the much-maligned incumbent President William Howard Taft, Roosevelt’s handpicked successor who was so cowed by the anxiety of influence that he could not exert his own will in his own term and, when the wildly popular Roosevelt resolved to challenge him for the Republican nomination, fell out with him in an ugly, public battle; and of Schrank, a friendless landlord with accumulated grievances who believed Roosevelt’s hubris and unchecked ambition to run for a third term was a gross abuse of tried-and-true democratic institutions. Moreover, Helferich examines a dream that Schrank supposedly had that convinced him of Roosevelt’s conniving in McKinley’s murder and lent some truth to the court’s assumption that Schrank was delusional.

Outsized personalities within a blistering campaign render this work a rollicking history lesson.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7627-8299-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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