Recommended for fans of imperial histories, royal scandals, or tragic romances.

TWILIGHT OF EMPIRE

THE TRAGEDY AT MAYERLING AND THE END OF THE HABSBURGS

A study of the many mysteries surrounding the death of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and his mistress.

The conventional story holds that the couple was at Mayerling, Rudolf’s hunting lodge, where he shot her, then sat with her body for hours before shooting himself. A story of love denied and lovers united forever in death? Maybe not. King and Wilson (co-authors: Lusitania: Triumph, Tragedy, and the End of the Edwardian Age, 2015, etc.) first establish the miserable life of Rudolf. His father, Emperor Franz Joseph, treated him like a military cadet with no power or influence. His mother, Empress Elisabeth, escaped her vicious, controlling mother-in-law by ignoring her only son. The only time his mother stepped up was when she demanded that Rudolf’s governor, appointed by Franz Joseph, be replaced. A cruel, abusive man, he drove his young child to a nervous breakdown. His new governor fed Rudolf’s intelligence, although he may have overdone it, with dozens of different instructors giving lessons. Rudolf was smart and talented, and he was inclined toward modern thought, intellectuals, and the idea of a prosperous middle class. He was also volatile and often threatened suicide, waving his gun around and begging others to commit suicide with him. His many affairs left him with a venereal disease, which he passed to his wife, causing sterility and leaving no hope of a royal heir. His affair with Baroness Mary Vetsera was arranged by her mother, wealthy social climber Helene Baltazzi, and Rudolf’s cousin, Marie Larisch. Helene’s motives for prostituting her daughter were to gain access to the right places and people. Marie’s motives were strictly mercenary. Helene gave her money and clothes while Mary and Rudolf were victims of her blackmail. There are many theories of why and how the two died, even that Rudolf was quite finished with Mary, who may have been pregnant. Rumor upon rumor abounded, and the authors lay out a variety of theories for readers to ponder.

Recommended for fans of imperial histories, royal scandals, or tragic romances.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08302-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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?

No Comments Yet
more