A little-known set of moving adventures, well-researched and -presented.



A son learns late in life about his bomber pilot father’s secretive, crucial role in saving POWs amid the mayhem of the last months of World War II.

Scientific writer Trimble learned the full story behind his father Robert’s flying missions at the end of World War II only in the last years of his father’s long life (he died in 2009 at age 90). However, the author always knew that his father, a captain and “regular guy” from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, courageously flew 35 raids over Germany and France in 1944 while an officer based in England. Yet there was more: Just before he flew his last B-17 mission in December 1944 and was handed a “Lucky Bastard” certificate to head home and see his wife and new baby girl, he was apprised of a new tour planned for him, supposedly “out of the combat zone.” As the Russians pushed back the front line, liberating German concentration camps, POWs were set loose amid the chaos, often harassed and worse by the Russians. Capt. Trimble, given an Office of Strategic Services passport and with little idea that he was actually going to work largely as a spy, flew into Poltava Air Base, Ukraine, headquarters of U.S. Eastern Command, which was once a Luftwaffe launch point but now served as a stopover base for Allied long-range bombing missions. During the next few tense months, under the resentful scrutiny of the Soviets, Trimble had to seek out American POWs, stranded flight crews and others he took pity on (a group of 400 deserted Frenchwomen), feed and shelter them, and arrange for their safe transport to Odessa and elsewhere. The enemy became the obstructionist Russians, who did not want the Americans snooping in their backyard. Ultimately, the American captain returned home shaken and traumatized from what he had witnessed.

A little-known set of moving adventures, well-researched and -presented.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-425-27604-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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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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