The author’s extensive knowledge of lifestyles and simple, concise writing combine for an enjoyable book showing how...

THE MAKING OF HOME

THE 500-YEAR STORY OF HOW OUR HOUSES BECAME OUR HOMES

Social historian Flanders (The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London, 2014, etc.) follows the evolution of the home from an edifice offering minimal shelter to present-day standards.

First, the author classifies European cultures into "house" countries and "home" countries. The former includes those populations that spend their time in public spaces such as restaurants, promenading. The latter is more an experience of comfort, the imagined state of the good life. With that division, Flanders chronicles the life-altering changes to the structure of houses over the centuries. One of the first was the arrival of the fireplace and chimney and their placement away from the center of the room, enabling larger, two-story houses. Soon, the availability of glass allowed larger windows, which led to curtains. Suddenly, there was a need for privacy, so extra rooms were added, while the lovely large windows were covered to keep out light. The author compares the house countries in which houses were a status symbol to the Northwest European home countries, where the concentration was on convenience and enjoyment. Flanders does not neglect the inhabitants of these buildings, and her telling of a family making a stew perfectly illustrates the pre-industrial roles shared equally by men and women. The Industrial Revolution changed the makeup of the home. Workers now left the home to make a living in factories and offices. New technologies developed such things as piped water, plumbing, heat, electricity, and, eventually, 20th-century “labor saving” devices, which quickly created the divisions into gender-based roles. Covering all aspects of home life, Flanders even delves into modern architecture, popular in the house countries, which creates designs for ostentation rather than usefulness.

The author’s extensive knowledge of lifestyles and simple, concise writing combine for an enjoyable book showing how families have joined, separated, and rejoined over the last 500 years.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06735-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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