An accomplished, powerful presentation of the American Revolution as it was, rather than as we might wish to remember it.

SCARS OF INDEPENDENCE

AMERICA'S VIOLENT BIRTH

The American Revolution was no festive musical.

German-born historian Hoock (British History/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, 2010, etc.) asserts that this is "the first book on the American Revolution and the Revolutionary War to adopt violence as its central analytical and narrative focus." Over time, he writes, the Revolution's pervasive violence and terror have "yielded to a strangely bloodless narrative of the war that mirrors the image of a tame and largely nonviolent Revolution." In fact, he claims in this fresh approach to a well-trod subject, "to understand the Revolution and the war—the very birth of the nation—we must write the violence, in all its forms, back into the story." This he certainly does, examining both physical and psychological violence inflicted by all participants—British, German and colonial military forces, Patriot and Loyalist partisans and civilians, Native Americans, and free and enslaved blacks—on each other throughout the conflict. The catalog of misery includes battlefield atrocities, rape and plunder of civilians, inhumane imprisonment, lynchings and expulsions, and the scorched-earth destruction of crops, plantations, and entire towns. Hoock suggests that the conflict is best understood as America's first civil war rather than as a colonial uprising. He also considers at length the struggles by civil and military leaders of both sides to determine what levels of violence would be efficacious in achieving their objectives and acceptable under contemporary ethical standards, issues of continuing relevance today. Deeply researched and buttressed by extensive useful endnotes, this is history that will appeal to both scholars and general readers. The author presents his grim narrative in language that is vivid without becoming lurid. In urging an acceptance of historical accuracy over our foundational myths, he hopes to direct us toward "an approach to global leadership…more restrained, finely calibrated, and generously spirited."

An accomplished, powerful presentation of the American Revolution as it was, rather than as we might wish to remember it.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3728-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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