Brisk, thoughtful assessment of the full significance and implications of an episode in British history underappreciated on...

OUR FIRST REVOLUTION

THE REMARKABLE BRITISH UPRISING THAT INSPIRED AMERICA’S FOUNDING FATHERS

A shrewd analyst of American politics turns his gaze eastward to the Glorious Revolution that placed William and Mary on England’s throne and served as an example to America’s Founders.

Following the English Civil War and the uneasy Restoration of Charles II, James II became king in 1685, determined to make England safe for Catholicism. To this end, he manipulated elections to Parliament, eliminated many representative assemblies and otherwise intemperately exercised royal control. Meanwhile, William of Orange, stadtholder of the United Netherlands and husband of James’s daughter Mary, was determined to oppose the hegemonic ambitions of France’s Sun King. Fearful that James might ally with Louis XIV, William invaded England in 1688 with a force of 500 ships and 15,000 men. Barone (Hard America, Soft America, 2005, etc.) attributes William’s largely bloodless victory not so much to his considerable talents as a soldier-king, but rather to his sublime understanding and mastery of politics. Accustomed to the Dutch exercise of tolerance and a free press, William used pamphlets and newsletters to sway an increasingly literate public and prepare the ground for his “invitation” to Britain. He convinced the English that he would end the untrammeled power of James and his counselors, ensure a free and lawful Parliament and save the Church of England and the ancient constitution. With the help of talented general John Churchill (who betrayed the king), William maneuvered brilliantly to achieve his larger political goal of binding England to a war with France. He allowed James to escape the island, avoiding the threat of regicide. He also acceded to the Declaration of Rights, guaranteeing citizens’ rights to petition and keep arms, prohibiting excessive bail, fines and illegal punishments. These rights, Barone argues, along with William’s promise not to interfere with Parliament, are precisely what the American colonists had in mind 75 years later.

Brisk, thoughtful assessment of the full significance and implications of an episode in British history underappreciated on this side of the Atlantic.

Pub Date: May 8, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-9792-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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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