A skillfully written history of the trials of some the earliest American colonists.

A BRAVE VESSEL

THE TRUE TALE OF THE CASTAWAYS WHO RESCUED JAMESTOWN AND INSPIRED SHAKESPEARE’S THE TEMPEST

The exquisitely detailed story of the 17th-century ship that helped inspire Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

In his debut, Woodward, the associate editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, recounts the tale of the beleaguered Sea Venture, which set out from England in 1609 for the colony of Jamestown in the New World. One of the passengers was William Strachey, a writer with literary ambitions who kept a detailed account of the trip. Nearly two months into the voyage, a hurricane struck and a massive wave crippled the ship. Unable to continue to Jamestown, the Sea Venture limped to the island of Bermuda. The crew stayed there for several months, subsisting on the sweet waters of the island’s ponds and the meat of birds, wild hogs and giant sea turtles. Some voyagers wished to remain on Bermuda, causing an open revolt. When the remaining crew members were finally able to continue to Jamestown, they found it decimated by starvation. Strachey wrote home about his ordeal, and the story became well-known in England—and served as one of the inspirations for The Tempest, which Strachey had the opportunity to see when he returned home. Woodward extracts a striking richness of imagery from 400-year-old sources—life on Bermuda comes across as strange and beautiful; Jamestown, a hell on earth. The author’s acute sensitivity to the hardships of the settlers will help readers gain a new appreciation for their exceedingly difficult lives.

A skillfully written history of the trials of some the earliest American colonists.

Pub Date: July 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-02096-6

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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