A nuanced history that captures the intensity of life in a period when victory was not a foregone conclusion.

CITIZENS OF LONDON

THE AMERICANS WHO STOOD WITH BRITAIN IN ITS DARKEST, FINEST HOUR

How the initially fragile Anglo-American alliance was forged in the perilous days of World War II.

In early 1941, Britain was perilously close to being forced to surrender to Germany. Submarines were sinking hundreds of thousands of tons of merchant shipping each month, creating dangerous shortages of food and materiel necessary to fight the war, yet Franklin Roosevelt held back from authorizing U.S. military convoys to accompany ships. Former Baltimore Sun White House correspondent Olson (Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England, 2007, etc.) re-creates the dramatic interplay of personalities and world politics, from the relationship between Winston Churchill (who understood that America was Britain’s lifeline) and FDR (who feared precipitating war with Germany and was suspicious of British imperialist motives), to the successful efforts of a small group of Americans living in London who played a vital behind-the-scenes role in bringing the two leaders together and forming an important alliance. These included Ambassador John Gilbert Winant, a former Republican governor who was nonetheless an ardent New Dealer; Edward R. Murrow, whose live broadcasts brought the reality of German terror bombings home to Americans; Averill Harriman, FDR’s special emissary who served as lend-lease coordinator and coached the prime minister on how to deal with the president; and Harry Hopkins, FDR’s closest advisor. Though many mingled with Britain’s “rich and powerful,” Murrow relished reporting about the “front-line” troops in the “Battle of London,” the “firemen, wardens, doctors, nurses, clergymen, telephone repairmen, and other workers who nightly risked their lives to aid the wounded, retrieve the dead, and bring their battered city back to life.” After Pearl Harbor, strains in the alliance emerged regarding the conduct of the war, with Dwight Eisenhower playing a crucial on-the-scene role in integrating the U.S.-British military command.

A nuanced history that captures the intensity of life in a period when victory was not a foregone conclusion.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6758-9

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more