Passionate and engaged, but Edward Humes’s Monkey Girl (2007) covers the same ground with equal readability and a less...

40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS

DARWIN, INTELLIGENT DESIGN, GOD, OXYCONTIN, AND OTHER ODDITIES ON TRIAL IN PENNSYLVANIA

A blow-by-blow account by Charles Darwin’s great-great-grandson of the trial that pitted parents and teachers against the anti-evolutionist members of the Dover, Penn., school board who voted to give intelligent design a nod in science courses.

Chapman writes like the screenwriter and director he is, generating scene after scene of courtroom drama with you-are-there immediacy, thanks to vivid sketches of the principals and astute use of verbatim testimony. What makes the account sad but also ominous was the extent to which ignorance and arrogance combined in the fundamentalist board members to stir dissension in the community, inspiring screaming matches, you-are-damned letters and outright threats to the plaintiffs and their supporters. The conduct of the trial itself was exemplary, presided over by the eminently fair and intelligent Judge John Jones, whose occasional displays of dry humor helped relieve tension. (When queried about the portentous biblical association of the 40 days and 40 nights the trial lasted, Jones quipped that it was not “by design.”) Both sides recruited star lawyers: seasoned civil liberties defenders for the plaintiffs, lawyers from the Thomas More Law Center for the defense. In the end, expert witnesses for the plaintiffs carried the day, brilliantly parrying the thrusts of defense lawyers Chapman depicts as dysfunctional, often abrasive and no match for the experts’ intellectual rigor. The author is by no means a neutral observer; indeed, this reportorial work is as self-absorbed as his memoir, Trials of the Monkey (2001). Chapman too often inserts his personal history and the emotional reactions he had to the many he interviewed, even confessing his liking for some of the most extreme bigots. What’s more, he would vote to include creationism in science classes, so that the principles of science itself could defeat it—and strike a blow against the rising tide of evangelicalism in America.

Passionate and engaged, but Edward Humes’s Monkey Girl (2007) covers the same ground with equal readability and a less obtrusive authorial voice.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-117945-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Collins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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?

No Comments Yet
more