COLDER THAN HELL

A MARINE RIFLE COMPANY AT CHOSIN RESERVOIR

A splendid first-person account of what was arguably the most remarkable engagement of the Korean War. When word came that North Korean troops had invaded the partitioned south in mid-1950, Owen (a WW II vet who had returned to the Marines as a second lieutenant after graduating from Colgate) was lolling on a North Carolina beach at Camp Lejeune with his wife and two young children. He soon joined Baker Company of the 1st Marine Division's Seventh Regiment and was put in charge of a mortar platoon. Arriving in Korea shortly after the Inchon landing had given UN forces the initiative against their Communist adversaries, Owen and his men (a motley crew of raw recruits, inexperienced reservists, and salty regulars) fought their way inland, headed north toward the Yalu River. Strung out along narrow roads in mountainous terrain with winter coming on, the marines encountered unexpectedly strong opposition from the Chinese army, which had entered the conflict in October. Battling the elements as well as the Chinese, the regiment withdrew from the Chosin Reservoir (hard by North Korea's border with China) in good order and inflicted terrible punishment. But the butcher's bill was high on both sides: All but 27 of the 300-odd enlisted men and officers in Owen's Company were wounded, captured, or killed during the withdrawal. Owen himself was badly wounded before the final breakout. During his violent and bloody sojourn in Korea's frozen wastes, the author amassed a wealth of telling detail on the grim realities of mortal combat. Owen's flair for narrative and his gut-level perspectives on life and death in the front lines make for an eloquent tribute to the disciplined courage and esprit de corps displayed by his comrades in arms. (22 photos, 2 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1996

ISBN: 1-55750-660-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Naval Institute Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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