A book every serious World War II student will want.



An in-depth study of the clash of the Japanese and Allied navies in Leyte Gulf, possibly the greatest naval battle of the 20th century.

Veteran military historian Prados (The U.S. Special Forces: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2015, etc.) has researched both U.S. and Japanese intelligence reports from the era, giving unusual insight into the decision-making on both sides. The Philippine invasion was a key step in the Allied strategy of securing bases for what was expected to be an invasion of the Japanese homeland. It was also one of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s cherished goals, recapturing territory he had lost to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile, the Japanese, reeling from a series of defeats by U.S. forces, decided to throw everything into a decisive naval battle, hoping to lay the ground for a negotiated peace. Prados goes into great detail on the buildup and planning on both sides, with particularly close looks at the intelligence reports available to the planners. The Japanese plans were practically “an open book to the U.S.” On the other hand, the Japanese knew enough to avoid being caught off guard, though they were hampered by having to protect several likely targets. Prados points to mistakes on both sides, notably U.S. Adm. William Halsey’s taking the bait of a Japanese decoy maneuver that lured his carriers away from the main battle. In the end, while both navies took substantial damage, the Japanese navy was all but obliterated. Some readers may find the author’s buildup to the battle itself a bit long; it’s nearly halfway through the book before the first ship-to-ship combat, submarine attacks that sank two Japanese cruisers on the way to Leyte. Other readers may wish for a list of key personnel, especially on the Japanese side, early in the book. While casual readers may be put off, this is still a valuable resource, with a wealth of detail on all aspects of the battle.

A book every serious World War II student will want.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47361-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: NAL Caliber/Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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