A gripping, original contribution to a still-unresolved Nazi crime.

HITLER'S LAST HOSTAGES

LOOTED ART AND THE SOUL OF THE THIRD REICH

Nazi looting of European art is old news, but this expert, disheartening account reveals that Germany still possesses a great deal and refuses to give it up.

Lane, the former chief European art reporter for the Wall Street Journal, writes that in 2012, German tax authorities raided the apartment of elderly bachelor Cornelius Gurlitt and found more than 1,200 precious artworks piled in every corner. They kept the news secret until a magazine revealed it in 2013 and then proceeded to stonewall the authorities, insisting that this was a tax matter and that the government had no obligation in other areas. Since then, aggressive claimants have received a few works, but most are housed at a Swiss museum following Gurlitt’s bequest. Having delivered this news, Lane turns back the clock to recount the dismal yet captivating story, centered on Hitler, who, she reminds readers, grew up as an artist and remained obsessed by cultural matters throughout World War II. Another ongoing figure is satirical artist George Grosz, who immigrated before Hitler took power and saw his work reviled, confiscated, and never returned. Hitler’s taste in art received enthusiastic cooperation from dealers including Cornelius’ father, Hildebrand Gurlitt. Readers will gnash their teeth as Lane engagingly recounts how dealers who formerly represented avant-garde artists quickly adapted and dumped their “degenerate” modernist clientele, except for purchases at knock-down prices for their private collection. They happily accepted works that they knew were confiscated from Jews. After 1939, many dealers, led by Hildebrand, toured conquered countries collecting for Hitler’s mythical future Führermuseum. When necessary, Hildebrand purchased works with an apparently unlimited national budget, although many ended up in his own collection, and most of them he successfully concealed after the war. Aware of art looting, the victorious Allies devoted modest effort to an investigation, but violent crimes took priority. Hildebrand and colleagues were cleared and resumed their careers.

A gripping, original contribution to a still-unresolved Nazi crime.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-736-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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