Grounding his story in documentary and fragmentary archaeological evidence, British archaeologist Hume (Martin's Hundred, 1982) tantalizingly reconstructs the history of the earliest English settlements in America. The British drive for colonies grew out of England's 16th- century rivalry with Spain; hence the earliest English settlements in America were planted in the midst of the ``Terra Florida'' that explorers had claimed for the Spanish crown. After some abortive attempts to create an English foothold in the New World, Sir Walter Raleigh sent more than 100 English colonists under gentleman-artist John White to lay claim to the land the Elizabethans called ``Virginia.'' They landed in Roanoke, in what is now North Carolina, in July 1587. After establishing a fort and colony, White and some members of the group returned to England. When several more English ships arrived in Roanoke in 1589, the colony had vanished with few, cryptic traces. Hume painstakingly reviews the sparse evidence, both from contemporary journals and from modern forays over the site, of the Lost Colony: Almost surely, the settlers were massacred by Indians, although little evidence exists today either of their presence at Roanoke or of their fate. Similarly, Hume tracks the more successful but often tragic history of the Jamestown settlement from its birth in 1607, using artifacts and journals of the period to trace the colony's growth from its unpromising beginning as a small disease-ridden group of adventurers into a prosperous community. Hume focuses particularly on the relationship between the settlers and the Indians, which went from mutual idealization to demonization within a few years. This culminated in the 1622 slaughter by the Indian chief Opechancanough of English settlers in the area around Jamestown and an English backlash against the natives that spelled the ultimate doom of their culture. Hume breaks little novel historical ground, although he eloquently recounts the archaeological record and brings alive the lost settlements of the early American past with wit and style. (164 illustrations) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1994

ISBN: 0-394-56446-4

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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