As warm and enticing as an oral history, with lots more footnotes.



A thorough, revealing history of an important political and military family from Ohio during the Civil War.

Rising from an impoverished family, Thomas Ewing Sr. (1789–1871) became a man of wealth and connections, a lawyer, a senator, a wise international political mind (he counseled Lincoln not to antagonize Britain as the Civil War loomed), a real estate developer and secretary of the Treasury and Interior. In a state riven by the debate over abolition, he took a middle road in hopes of saving the Union. He finally hewed to the North, as did his sons, all of whom became key military figures and one a chief justice. The family was certainly a dynasty, and Heineman (History/Angelo State Univ.; Put Your Bodies Upon the Wheels: Student Revolt in the 1960s, 2001, etc.) examines it with a low-key, intimate touch, graceful but unvarnished and with a nose for honesty. The author ably captures this momentous time in American history, drawing the big picture with a practiced ease, particularly the military activities on the battlefield and the political maneuvering on the slavery question in the territories and in Washington. He also handles the more personal details related to Ewing and his children. His daughter married William Tecumseh Sherman (who was Ewing’s foster child, and whom he groomed to generalhood); his son Hugh was a free spirit (not to mention a general) who saved Sherman from charges of insanity; Charles was another war hero (and another general); and Thomas Jr. was yet another general, though he was besmirched by an early episode of ethnic cleansing (forced removal) of Southerners from Missouri.

As warm and enticing as an oral history, with lots more footnotes.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8147-7301-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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