Though a balanced, objective study of the case would be useful and illuminating, Grumet does provide a readable look at the...

THE CURIOUS CASE OF KIRYAS JOEL

THE RISE OF A VILLAGE THEOCRACY AND THE BATTLE TO DEFEND THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

Post-mortem of an unusual Supreme Court case regarding the separation of church and state.

In the 1970s, the reclusive, ultra-Orthodox Satmar Jewish community of Brooklyn began to expand into a new enclave in upstate New York. Named Kiryas Joel, the new community would bring unexpected challenges to existing communities as well as to the existing school district. With the assistance of former New York Law Journal senior reporter Caher, Grumet, former executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, chronicles a court case spurred by unique issues the village presented regarding the education of special needs children. In a book that is far more an insider’s view of New York state politics than an examination of the Satmar movement, the author introduces readers to an up-and-coming state assemblyman named George Pataki, a cynical side of Gov. Mario Cuomo, the many unseen bosses of New York’s Democratic machine, and the inner workings of the state court system. After the state legislature passed a bill creating a new school district catering entirely to the village, Grumet sued to prevent the new district from creating a precedent that might jeopardize the First Amendment. After moving through multiple levels of the state courts, Kiryas Joel appealed to the Supreme Court, which voted against the new district. Undeterred, the state went on to pass more laws, fighting even more court battles, to keep the school district alive. The story of this epic court battle will fascinate those interested in the legal system as well as those intrigued by Albany politics. However, the author presents only one side of the story. Readers will wonder about the nature of the counterarguments of the Satmar community.

Though a balanced, objective study of the case would be useful and illuminating, Grumet does provide a readable look at the nitty-gritty of New York’s political machine.

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61373-500-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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...

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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