A vivid, potent, decidedly idiosyncratic addition to the literature of genocide.



Gonzo meets the Shoah in this wildly irreverent—and brilliant—tour of Holocaust tourism.

Convinced that the history of mass murder and total war is being reborn in the age of Trump and his “whole destroying-democracy and damning-future-generations thing,” Stahl, best known for his drug-soaked memoir, Permanent Midnight, traveled to Poland and Germany. “I needed to go to Naziland,” he explains. What he found, apart from the expected horrors, was a simple assault on good taste—e.g., a cafeteria in Auschwitz where tourists suck down kielbasa, dressed in the usual shorts-and–T-shirts uniform that marks them as rubes for all to see. The ghost of Hunter S. Thompson (who’s invoked here) hovers in the wings, but Stahl is sui generis, with a refreshingly self-deprecatory edge (“Don’t be an asshole,” he tells himself) and a delightfully sharp tongue: “Hard not to imagine Steve ‘I Financed Seinfeld’ Mnuchin on Meet the Press: ‘Say what you will about the Third Reich, they were big on infrastructure!’ ” Stahl knows his Holocaust history, sometimes more than his guide (who muttered loud enough for him to hear, “I hope you’re not going to be my Jewish problem”), but he was also prepared to be surprised. When confronted with the enormity of Nazi crimes against humanity, he writes, “contemplation turns to paralysis, and you end up going nowhere, gripped by the moral equivalent of couch lock.” The author doesn’t hesitate to make pointed comparisons between Nazis and the members of the mob who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, “Trump’s fecal lynch mob [who] bore chuckly logos like Camp Auschwitz.” Stahl’s takeaway is worth pondering: The Holocaust was no exception in history; instead, “It is the time between holocausts that is the exception. So savor these moments. Be grateful. Even if the ax is falling.”

A vivid, potent, decidedly idiosyncratic addition to the literature of genocide.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63614-025-4

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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