THE TWILIGHT OF THE INTELLECTUALS

CULTURE AND POLITICS IN THE ERA OF THE COLD WAR

An honest, unsparing, and often devastating analysis of how the intellectuals of the left—and for much of the last 70 years the term ‘intellectual’ was almost synonymous with the left—dealt with the supreme moral conflict of our times, that between communism and democracy. Kramer (The Revenge of the Philistines: Art and Culture 1972—1984, 1985), editor of the New Criterion, calls the Cold War “as much a war of ideas as it was a contest for military superiority” and writes bluntly that “many talented people in the West . . . fought on the side of the political enemy.” The evidence is presented in a series of essays written over the last 25 years, mostly dealing with individuals, of whom the Americans cause him the greatest anguish: those, for example, who condemned Whittaker Chambers, who at great personal cost revealed the part he had played in a Communist spy ring, rather than Alger Hiss, who in the face of increasingly incontrovertible evidence denied any role; the left in Hollywood, epitomized by John Huston, in Hollywood on Trial, who averred that in 1946 “Winston Churchill drew an iron curtain across Eastern Europe”; the radicals of the ’60s who likened “Amerika” to Nazi Germany; Mary McCarthy, who in Hanoi praised the “virtuous tyranny” of the regime and castigated both the American prisoners-of-war and America itself; and George Steiner, who attacked Solzhenitsyn for the “moral indecency” of implying that Soviet terror was as hideous as Hitlerism. Kramer does not, however, adduce evidence in this book for his much more far-reaching assertion that, as an intellectual tradition, liberalism is bankrupt and that it has surrendered to socialist ideology. Nor does he do much to link the decline in the fortunes of Marxism with that of modernism, his other theme. The Cold War was a war, and Kramer is scarred, but few fought it with more honor, consistency, and moral passion.

Pub Date: April 2, 1999

ISBN: 1-56663-222-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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?

more