THE LAST DAYS OF INNOCENCE

AMERICA AT WAR, 1917-1918

A lively and persuasive history of America's experience in WW I, stressing the impact of that immense struggle on the nation's identity, by a prolific husband-and-wife writing team (Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army, 1992, etc.). America had assumed a crucial role in the war, the authors argue, long before a single American soldier reached the front lines. From 1914 on, America supplied the ``rifles, howitzers, shells'' desperately needed by the hard-pressed Allies. American money propped up the depleted treasuries of the French and British; all told, they note, the US spent the staggering sum of $50 billion on the war effort. The swift arrival of hundreds of thousands of American troops blunted and then broke the last German offensive and decided the war's outcome. During their relatively short but ferocious time on the front, American forces, earning a reputation for reckless courage, suffered a quarter million casualties, including 50,000 dead. The authors spend roughly half the book describing the home front, including the long, bitter debate over entering the war, growing labor and social unrest, and a resulting massive growth of government powers. Their descriptions of these matters, and of the experience of American soldiers in battle, are handled with clarity and force. The British and French, determined to impose their terms on Germany, relentlessly downplayed America's contribution to the war, and undercut President Wilson's attempts to insure the peace. Many Americans, feeling that America had been manipulated and misled by her allies, turned away from Europe. At home, unrest had created ``wide rents . . . in the social fabric. . . . Rudely, the war had thrust Americans into the uncertain future of the twentieth century.'' A sad, gripping account of one of the defining moments in our history.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-41863-6

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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

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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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