A useful survey for readers interested in the Civil War in its short-lived southwestern theater.



The fight between North and South comes West.

Nelson’s (Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War, 2012, etc.) cast of characters reads like a John Ford film cast, featuring Mangas Coloradas, Kit Carson, and, in a cameo appearance, Geronimo. Added to it are lesser known figures such as John Baylor, a Texas rancher who became a Confederate, and James Henry Carleton, an agile foe on the Union side. The setting is New Mexico Territory, with a breakaway Arizona in favor of slavery and a nearby California founded as a free state. At the beginning of the Civil War, Baylor, writes the author, “became the first Confederate to lead a successful invasion of Union territory in the Civil War.” He captured a Union fort and threatened others before being relieved of command, in part because he had issued a no-quarter call against “renegade” Apaches. The Union Army eventually gained supremacy in the field with the arrival of columns from California and Colorado and victories in fights with Confederate forces, but federal forces then continued the war against the Apaches and Navajos to make the “three-cornered war” of which Nelson writes. That war took savage turns with the murder of Apache leader Mangas Coloradas, whose head was removed by a Union surgeon and boiled in a large kettle until “nothing but the skull was left.” It was a gruesome souvenir but not the only atrocity of the campaign. The war in New Mexico did not last long, with a “multiracial army of Union soldiers” composed of Hispanic New Mexicans and newcomer Anglos placing the territory firmly under Northern control by 1862. Nelson is a touch florid at times (“their stories reveal how the imagined future of the West shaped the Civil War, and how the Civil War became a defining moment in the West”), and most elements of her story are well known to students of the history of the American West. She does a good job of setting them in a coherent, if never particularly rousing narrative.

A useful survey for readers interested in the Civil War in its short-lived southwestern theater.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5254-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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