Not entirely convincing, but a welcome, fresh look at a still-controversial subject.



Debut author Scott investigates one of the worst assaults in American history on a Navy vessel not engaged in battle—an intelligence-gathering ship on which the author’s father was an officer.

On June 8, 1967, as the Six-Day War raged, the U.S. Navy backed all its ships off Israel’s coast except for the Liberty, which was 12 miles offshore in international waters. Israeli forces asked the ship to identify itself; the Liberty asked that Israeli forces identify themselves first. Then Israeli torpedo boats and jets attacked the Liberty for a full hour, shooting more than 800 bullets through its hull, blasting a hole in its side with a torpedo, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171. After providing a suspenseful, moment-by-moment portrayal of the siege, gleaned from interviews with survivors, Scott addresses the question of exactly why the assault happened, which is still a matter of dispute. The Israeli government claimed that the brutal attack was simply a tragic mistake; Israeli forces did not see the ship’s American markings and suspected it was Egyptian. After a weeklong Navy investigation, the U.S. government accepted that explanation, though many officials, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, had doubts. Some suspected that the Israelis knew full well that that the ship was American, but attacked it anyway for unauthorized spying on sensitive communications. Even President Lyndon Johnson confided to a Newsweek reporter that he believed the attack was intentional. Scott makes a strong circumstantial case for this argument, though hard evidence remains elusive and the true story may never be known. The most powerful passages deal with the human cost of the attack—the casualties and the psychological toll on the survivors. The moving closing scene depicts a meeting between the author’s father and one of the Israeli pilots involved in the attack.

Not entirely convincing, but a welcome, fresh look at a still-controversial subject.

Pub Date: June 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5482-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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...


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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