A convincing demonstration of the close links between capitalism and the unconscionable trade in human beings.

THE KIDNAPPING CLUB

WALL STREET, SLAVERY, AND RESISTANCE ON THE EVE OF THE CIVIL WAR

A tale of money and enslavement on the streets of New York.

In the early 19th century, writes historian Wells, New York was the Northern city most closely aligned with the slave states and the institution of slavery, “due in large part to the lucrative trade between Manhattan banks and insurance companies and the slaveholders of the cotton South.” Where many Northerners refused to follow the demands of the Fugitive Slave Act, it was big business for a group that abolitionist David Ruggles called the New York Kidnapping Club, “a powerful and far-reaching collection of police officers, political authorities, judges, lawyers, and slave traders who terrorized the city’s black residents throughout the early nineteenth century.” Members of the club thought nothing of dispatching freeborn Black New Yorkers to the South to be impressed into slavery. Black children in particular often disappeared from the streets only to turn up on plantations in the South—and later in Cuba and other international slave markets. The work of the kidnappers was made easier by a corrupt police department—and at one point two corrupt and competing police forces—and the fact that both sides of Manhattan were lined with wharves filled with ships that came and went. The author populates his pages with characters who are little known to history, such as the city’s recorder, Richard Riker, who “for nearly thirty years on behalf of southern slaveholding claimants sent untold numbers of people into bondage.” Small wonder that when he died, the newspapers of Charleston and New Orleans published obituaries. Ruggles should also be better known. The narrative suffers from a certain sluggishness and needless rhetorical flourishes—“As the train gained momentum on its tracks, Ruggles took his seat, hopeful that the momentum to end slavery was finally gaining steam among the hectic citizens of the northeast”—but it’s a story that deserves to be told.

A convincing demonstration of the close links between capitalism and the unconscionable trade in human beings.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-56858-752-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bold Type Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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