A succinctly instructive historical narrative by a top-notch historian and author.



A tightly focused study of the political reasons that the Allies hesitated to liberate Paris when they could.

Eminent historian Smith (Bush, 2016, etc.) has such a breadth of knowledge of this era in history that he is able to offer a distillation of swift-moving events surrounding the 1944 liberation of Paris in a marvelously readable fashion. Right from the beginning, the author smoothly sets the stage: While at first the occupation of Paris had seemed “a celebration of German victory” and a carnival for Germans on leave, as the military tide turned and brought food shortages and the Allied advance, the “collaborationists were beginning to look for cover.” At the same time, the Communists and Resistance fighters in the city grew bolder. Charles de Gaulle, an unknown officer at the beginning of the war, self-exiled to London and spent years in the “wilderness” decrying Nazi occupation and bolstering French resistance only to be sidelined by President Franklin Roosevelt, who “believed the future of France lay with [Marshal] Pétain and Vichy.” Smith underscores how Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, now supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, acted as a masterful go-between for these two defiant forces. As the Allies advanced into France in June 1944, de Gaulle was anxious to be at the head of French forces entering Paris. He was perplexed that Eisenhower, who regarded the liberation of Paris as a distraction that would cause his troops to get bogged down in street-by-street fighting, had planned to bypass the city. Ultimately, de Gaulle convinced him that if liberation were delayed, the Communists would seize power in the vacuum. The author also insightfully explores the work of Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, who was instructed by Hitler to reduce the city to ashes upon retreat yet craftily played both sides to save the day.

A succinctly instructive historical narrative by a top-notch historian and author.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6492-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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