A richly descriptive chronicle of disaster from an expert on the subject.

THE THIRTYMILE FIRE

A CHRONICLE OF BRAVERY AND BETRAYAL

Thorough, disciplined account of a terrifying fire that ripped through the Okanogan National Forest near Washington State’s Canadian border in 2001.

Maclean begins with a nod to one of his previous books on the subject of firefighting. A number of new safety measures were instituted after 14 firefighters perished in the 1994 South Canyon tragedy analyzed in Fire on the Mountain (1999), but few could have predicted that the measures would be tested so soon. Just seven years after South Canyon, an improperly extinguished campfire abandoned during a smoking-hot summer in the North Cascades mountain range provided another stern trial of the firefighting community. Maclean divides the story into three parts. He begins by outlining the various people who headed into the woods to do battle with the fire on that fateful day, highlighting character traits that would play a vital part in the tragedy. The second section concentrates on how the fire was tackled, cataloguing mishaps and errors that included problems with the hoses, failure to obtain helicopter support and neglect that led to innocent bystanders Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer becoming entangled in events. The author comments on these incidents while describing a fire spiraling dangerously out of control to claim the lives of four firefighters and injure many others. The final chapters focus on the fire’s aftermath, with the deceased’s families quickly turning from sorrow to bitterness and recriminations, especially after the release of a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Commission that suggested the dead may have ignored orders. Maclean mostly keeps his opinions to himself, offering a narrative that comprehends many conflicting viewpoints.

A richly descriptive chronicle of disaster from an expert on the subject.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8050-7578-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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