Fenster is a superb storyteller, taking the factual information of the race and investing it with wit and brio. A race like...

RACE OF THE CENTURY

THE HEROIC TRUE STORY OF THE 1908 NEW YORK TO PARIS AUTO RACE

A natty reconstruction of the famous round-the-world auto race.

When the contraption was only in its 20th year, six cars undertook to drive from New York to Paris the long way, 22,000 miles west from the starting point. Journalist Fenster (Mavericks, Miracles, and Medicine, 2003) has a charging style that suits the race to a tee, right from the blatting eruption of engines in Times Square. First, though, she covers the stakes involved: how the French wanted to maintain the dominance they’d established in the Peking to Paris race a year earlier; how the Germans wanted to display the aura of plenty that glowed on the Old Germany; how the Americans strove to demonstrate the pluck of their new industry. But where Fenster shines is in describing the terrain of the race. Roads were crude affairs in 1908, and service stations, of course, nonexistent. The idea was to drive across the Bering Strait, though circumstances demanded the drivers take boats instead, and what they met in the Far East, from bogs to bandits, was enough to make up for that bit of ease. After thousands of miles, what it boiled down to was a race between the German car and the American, with attendant displays of sportsmanship. Bad roads, when there were roads at all, were the least of the racers’ troubles: they had to contend with hunger when they weren’t being fêted; with wrong turns; insurrection; endless dank forests and the simple, terrifying fear of being plain lost. All this Fenster conveys with immediacy, including the cold, the mud and the essentially suicidal route, where local inhabitants could be more dangerous than the murderous lay of the land.

Fenster is a superb storyteller, taking the factual information of the race and investing it with wit and brio. A race like this, almost otherworldly in its setting, has much potential, and Fenster taps into every mile of it. (Six photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-609-61096-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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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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