An infuriating, stinging rebuke to politicians who leave returning soldiers to their own devices.



A series of short testimonies by U.S. military veterans about their treatment at a Hot Springs, S.D., veterans facility.

Freelance writer Goulet gathered this collection primarily as a reaction to the U.S. government’s announced decision in December 2011 to close the veterans hospital in Hot Springs and pull the plug on its good works. The shutdown would require veterans to seek help hours away without reimbursement of travel expenses. Government officials have cited economic considerations and the hospital’s outdatedness, but these stories show these reasons as misguided at best. Each of the vignettes is brief—typically five pages or so—but harrowing. Goulet often lets the veterans speak for themselves about their war experiences and their profound aftereffects—mostly alcoholism or some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, including anger issues, insomnia, memory loss, fear of crowds or loud noises, impatience or irritability. The author fashions the veterans’ words into engaging narratives without overpolishing them, giving a rattling, unvarnished rawness to the material. There are more than two dozen stories here from World War II, Korea, the Balkans and one Middle Eastern fiasco after another, as well as additional brief comments from both vets and community members. The veterans, mostly men, tell stories about the distress they’ve lived with for years, and it’s clear that without a close sanctuary such as the Hot Springs facility—which is shown to have had a gentle hand, an easeful pace and a personal touch—many lives would be diminished. “We believe if we don’t stop these closures here and now, then veterans will have no choice but to relocate to urban centers where the focus will be on VA convenience and not on veteran care,” the author writes. Shut the Hot Springs hospital down? Readers may come away from this collection believing that the government should be cloning it in every state.

An infuriating, stinging rebuke to politicians who leave returning soldiers to their own devices.

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1484053980

Page Count: 236

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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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