Good entertainment for fans of Civil War tales, naval history, or true stories of high-seas adventure.

THE REBEL RAIDERS

THE ASTONISHING HISTORY OF THE CONFEDERACY’S SECRET NAVY

The little-known story of the clandestine British construction of a Confederate warship, Southern piracy, and the far-reaching impact these activities had on modern international law.

Naval historian deKay (Monitor, 1997, etc.) finds political intrigue, swashbuckling adventure, and the seeds of 20th-century diplomatic agreements in his new history of the Civil War high seas. According to deKay, the tight Union blockade of Confederate states forced the rebel government to seek novel ways to export cotton and thereby fund the war. To arrange for the construction of warships in England, Jefferson Davis decided to dispatch James Bulloch, a Southern sympathizer, successful New York sea captain, and maritime businessman. The author follows the efforts of Charles Adams, the American minister in London, to catch the British illegally providing vessels to the Confederacy. Adams hired a battalion of private detectives and agents to follow Bulloch, who managed to deliver the CSS Alabama to captain Raphael Semmes despite their best efforts. In addition to being fanatically committed to the rebellion, deKay notes, Semmes was a natural at piracy: as soon as he received the Alabama, he began a campaign of terror on commercial sea trade, single-handedly capturing and burning more than 60 American vessels and forcing the US navy to send 25 warships away from blockade duty to search for him. The author concludes by analyzing American attempts to attain a retribution settlement from the British, noting that while Semmes and the Alabama may be best remembered for their Civil War exploits, their real legacy lies in establishing a precedent for resolving international disputes. In this case, an international tribunal adjudicated in favor of the American complaints and successfully compelled Britain to pay some ten million dollars in damages to American shipping interests.

Good entertainment for fans of Civil War tales, naval history, or true stories of high-seas adventure.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-345-43182-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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