Repetitive in detail but cumulatively very moving.



An oral history of one horrific night when busloads of unarmed students were attacked by local Mexican police.

Gibler (To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War, 2011, etc.) only presents one side, but he offers compelling testimony that there is no other side—that police attacked without provocation and the government did its best to cover up what it had perhaps authorized in the first place. The results seem beyond dispute: “that police killed 6, wounded more than 40, and disappeared 43 people.” The fate of the disappeared remains open to question: were they sent to be incinerated by a drug gang in collusion with police, or, as their parents hope, are they still alive and held captive by the government? The Teachers College in Ayotzinapa was a progressive institution that was at odds with government repression. As one sophomore explains, “the way of life here, the context, the government harassment and persecution that is always present, I mean it never dissipates, and one has to start, little by little, getting used to the idea that this school isn’t any old school.” The underclassmen who dominate the early part of the account had no idea what they were getting into when they were enlisted to participate in an “action” commemorating an earlier police massacre of students in Mexico. They sensed something was wrong from the outset, when the bus drivers moved slowly and then stopped before armed police, who initially fired shots in the air but soon turned their fire on the students, who responded with rocks. When soldiers belatedly arrived, they threatened to turn the students over to the police who had been shooting them. Hospitals were indifferent: “They should have killed you,” said one hospital director to those seeking help. This is the account of those who witnessed and survived the attacks as well as that of the parents who still search for the 43.

Repetitive in detail but cumulatively very moving.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-87286-748-2

Page Count: 260

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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