A full, lucid, and moving biography of the Nazi hunter who became the ``unwelcome conscience'' of post-Holocaust Europe. Pick, diplomatic editor and feature writer of the Guardian since 1961, got Simon Wiesenthal's cooperation for this biography without ceding editorial control. This allows the author, who has long covered the careers of Wiesenthal and fellow Austrians Kurt Waldheim and Bruno Kreisky, to go well beyond her subject's published memoirs, The Murderers Among Us (1967) and Justice Not Vengeance (1990). While recording Wiesenthal's monumental achievements in both tracking down Nazi war criminals and protecting the history of the Holocaust, Pick does not refrain from painting her subject as egotistical, inconsiderate, and ``unsuited to teamwork.'' As a young man, Wiesenthal seemed headed for a career as an architect. The war changed everything. Pick provides some psychological clues to Wiesenthal's obsession with preserving Holocaust memory, including the trauma he felt at not being there when his mother was seized. His photographic memory, facility with languages, and tenacity combined with uncanny luck to preserve him from firing squads and crematoria lines (he spent time in 13 concentration camps), place him with an American war crimes unit after the war and, eventually, on the world stage, where he did battle with the likes of Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele, the Israeli Mossad, the Vatican, other Nazi hunters, the World Jewish Congress, and Bruno Kreisky. Providing a moving glimpse into the private life of this international icon, Pick quotes wife Cyla complaining, ``I am not married to a man. I am married to thousands, or maybe millions of dead.'' There is no more disturbing memory for the West than that of the genocidal atrocities committed in WW II, and no more disturbing—and decorated—guardian of this memory than the complex man depicted here. (40 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1996

ISBN: 1-55553-273-X

Page Count: 349

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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.



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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