Important historical points that would glow brightly if illuminated by more narrative fire.

Moran (History/Univ. of Kansas; The Scopes Trial, 2002, etc.) provides a scholarly look at the antievolution “impulse,” focusing on the interactions of the social forces that animated, propelled and changed it.

The author employs an old-fashioned historiography—introduction, clearly stated thesis, chapters devoted to each aspect of the thesis, a generally impersonal tone, scholarly diction—but he does highlight some important aspects of the controversies that have raged since the Scopes Trial of 1925. After some personal comments about his arrival to teach in Kansas and his alarm about that state’s decision about the teaching of evolution, he sketches the career of Charles Darwin and shows how Darwin’s revolutionary work was received both here and abroad. He notes the importance of women in the controversies here and shows how they became more deeply involved when the debate shifted to the public-school curriculum. He looks, too, at the involvement of evangelicals and summarizes the positions of notables like Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson and J. Franklyn Norris. Regionalism, he argues, was (and remains) an important factor. In some ways the South has felt once again invaded by the North, this time by rivers of scorn that have flowed from the pens of many Northern journalists. Moran examines how evolution threatened not just the “young earthers” who accepted Genesis as history but also those who believed in the divinity of Jesus. Race has always been a factor, and the author notes the large percentage of African-Americans who believe in the literal truth of the Bible; he also explains how many were disturbed by the ape imagery that often accompanied debates about evolution. Moran ends with the continuing difficulties that science teachers and students face in American classrooms, where the issue remains prominent and divisive.

Important historical points that would glow brightly if illuminated by more narrative fire.

Pub Date: March 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-19-518349-8

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012


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



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. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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