A solid military history focused on an elite division that made its mark in the final stages of World War II.



A pioneering military unit’s history, culminating in its breaking the German hold on Italy’s mountains during World War II.

Isserman (American History/Hamilton Coll.; Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering, 2017, etc.) traces the story of the 10th Mountain Division from its inception at a meeting of four skiers in 1940, when Finnish ski troops were resisting the invading Germans. One of them, Charles Minot Dole, decided to take the idea of training and equipping an American ski regiment. At first met with indifference, he managed to convince the War Department to take the idea seriously. The Army set up a training facility in mountain country and began to recruit trained skiers to man the new unit. Eventually, the training camp was located at Camp Hale in the Colorado Rockies, and the soldiers also took lessons in mountain climbing. At first, there was no obvious mission for the 10th Mountain. A mission to the Aleutian Island of Kiska turned out to be a fiasco when the Japanese occupiers evacuated before the U.S. troops arrived. Men were transferring to other units in order to find combat somewhere. It wasn’t until late in the war—December 1944—that the stalled front in the Italian mountains presented a perfect spot for their skills. While the Germans were already in retreat elsewhere in Europe, Hitler ordered them to hold the line in Italy. The 10th Mountain took the critical peaks and ridges to which they were sent; they also endured heavy casualties in the process. Isserman draws on the division’s extensive archives, including personal accounts by many of the surviving soldiers. He focuses on several individuals from their induction to the end of the war, giving the book the feel of an old war movie with a cast drawn from all parts of the country. The division’s long time in training makes the narrative a slow build, but once the 10th Mountain gets to Italy, there’s plenty of payoff.

A solid military history focused on an elite division that made its mark in the final stages of World War II.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-87143-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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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