A well-conceived study of a little-known corner of history.



Nazi Germany, tourist destination? Yes, by this account—and, by 1937, a destination of choice for a half-million Americans per year.

“You did not have to be pro-Nazi to marvel at the green countryside, the vineyard-flanked rivers or the orchards stretching as far as the eye could see.” So notes Boyd (The Excellent Doctor Blackwell: The Life of the First Woman Physician, 2013, etc.) of the vast, lucrative trade marketing Germany under the Third Reich to non-German visitors, a trade that had begun in earnest immediately after World War I ended. It helped to hold those views or at least believe, as did British aristocrat Violet Bonham Carter, that “the reparations policy insisted on by France…was morally unjust and politically mad.” Carter was traveling to a grimy, still-staggering Germany in 1923, and during that and the following decade, many Britons and Americans came to Germany to enjoy the bohemian liberties depicted by Christopher Isherwood in the stories that would underlie the stage play Cabaret. Some of those Britons took pains to avoid dreadful middle-class people, “however nice they are,” and to stay among “one’s own kind,” as another aristocrat wrote to the folks back home. Some of Boyd’s portraits involve men and women whose firsthand views of Germany would harden their opposition to Nazism—including, surprisingly, the poet and playwright Samuel Beckett, who endured “freezing weather, lack of money, rain and leaking shoes” to report on the place with much less enthusiasm than Graham Greene. Boyd also adds a dimension to a well-known tale by noting Hitler’s famed refusal to shake the hand of African-American athlete Jesse Owens—but adding that ordinary Germans in the Olympic crowd “took the great black athlete to their hearts, chanting ‘Oh-vens! Oh-vens’ whenever he appeared.” Even so, Boyd notes the still greater popular enthusiasm for the regime, concluding that returning visitors would have had no illusions, if honest with themselves, about the Nazis’ true colors.

A well-conceived study of a little-known corner of history.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-782-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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