A rich mosaic of culture, history, economics, and politics. (180 b&w photos, 16 pages color, not seen)


A comprehensive, generously illustrated chronicle of Mexican history from conqueror Cortés to singer Selena.

Following their lucid introduction, editors Meyer (History/Univ. of Arizona) and Beezley (History/Univ. of Arizona) divide their engaging text into five major chronological sections, offering a total of 20 essays written by an impressive cast of experts on a wide variety of subjects. They begin with an analysis of the 16th-century Spanish customs and cultural assumptions that Cortés and his men brought with them to the New World. A fine chapter on the native Mayan, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican cultures follows. Next is a description of the collision of the two worlds that reveals how Cortés was able to succeed against sheer numbers because of his ability to divide the Indians politically. Subsequent chapters deal with the growth of New Spain, the uniquely Mexican character that Catholicism assumed in the region (“the combination of African and native traditions led to interesting religious forms”), and the struggle for Mexican independence (achieved in1821). Although Meyer and Beezley maintain a steady chronological progression, they also offer chapters on such subjects as disease and ecology, relations with the US, and the arts (especially interesting are the accounts of Diego Rivera and of Mexico’s other celebrated muralists). All the contributors are particularly adept at viewing well-known events from Mexican perspectives (the Battle of the Alamo, for example, consumes barely a sentence in Christon Archer’s damning evaluation of President Santa Anna as “the principal inhabitant even today of Mexico’s black pantheon of those who failed the nation”). The disastrous 1846–48 war with the US receives its due, as do the exploits of Juárez, Maximilian, Zapata, and Villa. Later essays deal with the emergence of Mexico as a modern state and its struggles to develop an economy sufficiently robust to provide for its impoverished segments.

A rich mosaic of culture, history, economics, and politics. (180 b&w photos, 16 pages color, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-19-511228-8

Page Count: 639

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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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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