An affecting travelogue that reveals true Russian personality.



Adventures in Russia over three trips in 20 years.

In 1995, Los Angeles–based ghostwriter Dickey ventured to Russia in her late 20s in order to perfect her Russian and ply her trade as a writer. A fortuitous advertisement and encounter with American photojournalist Gary Matoso resulted in a three-month trek from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg, where Dickey was based, meeting people in the Russian hinterlands and chronicling personal stories along the way. After her initial trip resulted in a blog, the author returned in 2005 to track down many of the same people the journalist duo had met in 1995. Finally, in 2015, Dickey returned alone to write this spirited account of regular Russians living in a vastly changed landscape from her 1995 visit. Moving back and forth to compare her earlier trips, Dickey witnessed the rise of tourism, once virtually unheard of; the flourishing of the once-vilified Jewish community in Birobidzhan despite the fact that many of the Jewish people she first met in 1995 had left; the rise of small entrepreneurs struggling in the wake of the “ruble krizis” such as in Chita, in eastern Siberia; the Buryat farmers of Galtai, who still slaughter sheep in the manner of Genghis Khan; the environmental damages to the magnificent freshwater Lake Baikal; the underground gay scene in Novosibirsk; and the travails of a Moscow rap star, among other stories. Now in middle age and married to a woman in LA, Dickey had to come out to many of her Russian acquaintances unfamiliar with lesbianism, and she dreaded their disapproval. However, despite the general anti-Western sentiment she endured—President Barack Obama was considered untrustworthy, while Ukraine was claimed as Russian—the author presents nuanced portraits.

An affecting travelogue that reveals true Russian personality.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09229-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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