This treatment of an important topic is tainted by excesses of preconception and ideology.

STALIN'S SECRET AGENTS

THE SUBVERSION OF ROOSEVELT'S GOVERNMENT

Two veteran Cold War historians allege that pro-Soviet American government officials and private citizens labored during and after World War II to aid communism around the globe.

Former Indianapolis News editor commentator Evans (Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies, 2007, etc.) and former Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation head Romerstein (co-author: The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors, 2000, etc.) believe that Stalin manipulated Franklin Roosevelt and, to a lesser extent, Winston Churchill, during World War II, in exchange for the Russians using their military might against Nazi Germany. Stalin and his aides gained hegemony in postwar Europe, write the authors, with the help of traitors within both the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Evans and Romerstein discuss the roles of Alger Hiss and Armand Hammer, and they cite an impressive array of sources in both English and Russian. However, as has been their practice for decades, the authors equate presence at an event—e.g., Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at Yalta—with the covert wielding of tremendous influence. That Hiss, Hammer and others accused of treason by Evans and Romerstein could have achieved the results for which they are blamed falls into the realm of speculation, no matter the breadth of research. Their speculation is interesting, and some may be true, but their seeming inability to distinguish between factual evidence and assumption weakens the book. When the authors stray from Soviet influence within the United States and shift the focus to the rise of communism in China around the same time, their speculation about the allegedly traitorous activity of named individuals feels even shakier.

This treatment of an important topic is tainted by excesses of preconception and ideology.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4391-4768-9

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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...

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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