Far more worthy than the celebrity-driven narratives of recent seasons, this is an exceptionally valuable addition to the...

GHOST SOLDIERS

THE FORGOTTEN EPIC STORY OF WORLD WAR II’S MOST DRAMATIC MISSION

An extraordinary tale of bravery under fire and the will to endure.

When the Philippines fell to Japan in 1942, hundreds of the Allied troops who survived the Bataan death march were imprisoned in the jungle camp of Cabanatuan. Some would be tortured, others executed without cause; all suffered starvation and illnesses such as “dengue fever, amoebic dysentery, bacillary dysentery, tertian malaria, cerebral malaria, typhus, typhoid.” For three years, the “ghost soldiers” of Cabanatuan lived in an earthly hell, and they would have remained there longer had an elite group of Rangers fighting with Douglas MacArthur’s invading army not planned and executed a rescue operation of tremendous emotional but doubtful strategic value—and one that could easily have ended in a costly disaster. Led by a young colonel named Henry Mucci (called “Little MacArthur” not only because he smoked a pipe incessantly but also because “he had, like the Supreme Commander, a firm grasp of the theatrics of warfare”), the Rangers penetrated deep within Japanese-controlled territory, mounted an attack on the Japanese troops and tanks surrounding the camp, and led hundreds of Allied prisoners to safety—with thousands of enemy soldiers in hot and vengeful pursuit. Amazingly, the operation cost only a handful of casualties. Justly celebrated in its time (“Every child of coming generations will know of the 6th Rangers, for a prouder story has not been written,” declared one combat correspondent of the rescue), the Cabanatuan rescue has since been all but forgotten. Sides (Stomping Grounds, 1992) restores the episode to history in a thoroughly researched and reported narrative that is careful in its attention to detail and never short of thrilling.

Far more worthy than the celebrity-driven narratives of recent seasons, this is an exceptionally valuable addition to the popular literature surrounding WWII.

Pub Date: May 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-49564-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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