Best of all, the author—who has a solid body of fiction to his credit—is a consummate storyteller; not only does the book...

MARKED FOR DEATH

A HISTORY OF THE FIRST WAR IN THE AIR

World War I was a time of vast changes, notably the development of aerial combat. Here’s a look at how it came to be.

Hamilton-Paterson (Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World, 2010, etc.) looks at the war from a mostly British perspective, noting how the ups and downs of the Royal Flying Corps were emblematic of the growing pains of military aviation. At first, military leaders saw the airplane as a mobile observation post, reporting enemy strongpoints and troop movements. But ground troops fired at the unwanted flying spies, and soon the men in the planes were shooting at each other. Barely two months after the armies mobilized, a French aviator downed a German plane, and the air war began in earnest. However, the dogfights were only the tip of the iceberg. The author shows how decisions made by politicians, the owners of aircraft factories, inventors, engineers, and the men who turned new recruits into fighter pilots affected the air war. Most of them were making it up as they went along; nobody knew much about flying, and their machines were incredibly primitive by today’s standards. Inevitably, though, some became expert at the deadly game: the first aces. Hamilton-Paterson gives the likes of “Red Baron” von Richthoven and his French and English rivals their due, but the less-familiar aspects of the air war fascinate him, as well: German bombing raids on London, the almost criminally lax training regimes, and the planes themselves. The account is enlivened by quotes from pilots’ journals and letters home. While the author focuses mainly on the British war effort, there are enough looks into other nations’ inaugural attempts to build an air force to round out the picture.

Best of all, the author—who has a solid body of fiction to his credit—is a consummate storyteller; not only does the book tell a fascinating story, it is nearly impossible to put down.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-158-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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