Waste, restoration, and efforts to use a scarce resource wisely: Doyle speaks well to issues that are as pressing today as...

THE SOURCE

HOW RIVERS MADE AMERICA AND AMERICA REMADE ITS RIVERS

A vigorous look at American history through the nation’s waterways.

In at least some measure, writes Doyle (River Science and Policy/Duke Univ.), federalism was born of an effort to regulate the use of waterways that, in the eastern portion of the country, often lay entirely within individual states: the James, for instance, in Virginia, and the Hudson in New York. In the 18th century, private river companies had formed with “modest ambitions: keeping their river cleared of logs, sandbars, and any other blockages.” The newly formed federal government stepped in, placing rivers in the national domain; it’s no accident, writes the author, that the U.S. Military Academy was sited alongside a river, since its graduates were trained to be river engineers above all else. Where states retained power, they sometimes governed for the eventuality of a flood, as with the levee districts along the Mississippi in the South. However, when Ronald Reagan’s administration made moves to revert power to the states, “this meant putting the impetus back on local and state governments to spend their own money on projects,” which was a nonstarter. Doyle links subsequent developments in taxation, environmental policy, energy, and resource management to the management of water, with all its many tangles; as he notes, for example, “fences dividing fields or lines dividing a map; both are intuitive. Dividing water is not so intuitive.” Thus, the fight continues over such things as the allocation of the Colorado River or the ownership of the mouth of the Columbia. Doyle is not the first to look at history through the lens of water; Wallace Stegner and Donald Worster, among others, have written signally important books in the field. This book is a comparatively minor entry alongside them but still worthy of a place in any water-centered library.

Waste, restoration, and efforts to use a scarce resource wisely: Doyle speaks well to issues that are as pressing today as in the first years of the republic.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-24235-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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