A worthy companion to Frederick Taylor’s Dresden (2004), shedding new light on a neglected chapter of the air war in Europe.

INFERNO

THE FIERY DESTRUCTION OF HAMBURG, 1943

A thoroughgoing history of the Allied bombing campaign that leveled a great German city—but did little damage to the Nazi war machine.

“I have very little problem with the fact that Hamburg was bombed,” writes history editor and novelist Lowe (New Free Chocolate Sex, 2005, etc.). The city was, he writes, a center of war-related manufacture, a place where U-boats and aircraft were produced in great number. Yet the historically anglophilic city, a center of resistance to Nazi rule early on, had to be sacrificed: At that stage of the war, bombing German cities, Lowe argues, was the one way the Western allies had to show the long-suffering Russians that they were doing anything meaningful against their common enemy—and, at the same time, diverted resources from the Russian Front. Moreover, Hamburg was a victim of a British leadership schooled in the trenches in WWI, convinced that bombing enemy civilians was not such a bad thing given the morale-reducing effects this could have on their loved ones in the military. The head of the British air command, “Butcher” Harris, selected two advance targets, the seaport cities of Lübeck and Rostock, because “their crowded wooden buildings were highly flammable, and would provide a perfect opportunity for Harris to test his belief that incendiaries, rather than high explosive, were the most efficient means of destroying a city.” They were indeed, and Harris hurled wave after wave of bombers against the heavily defended city, raining a hell of fire and killing nearly 45,000 civilians in a week and leaving another million homeless. Describing this carnage in gruesome detail, Lowe reckons that this apocalyptic attack on Hamburg was “more akin to the annihilation that would soon become possible in the nuclear age” than to anything that passed as conventional bombing at the time.

A worthy companion to Frederick Taylor’s Dresden (2004), shedding new light on a neglected chapter of the air war in Europe.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7432-6900-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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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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