A fascinating, little-known history on the evolution of an iconic city whose destiny was forever altered by a group of...




A focused overview of the people and events that shaped Beverly Hills.

Against a backdrop of the Roaring ’20s and the Prohibition Era, a scarcely addressed territorial skirmish simmered over the land now known as Beverly Hills. Journalist and media editor Clare writes passionately and knowledgeably about how a consortium of film celebrities known as the “Beverly Hills Eight”—spearheaded by silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and including Will Rogers, Rudolph Valentino, and Tom Mix, among others—staked their careers on keeping the territory independent from annexation. In her enlightening, tight history lesson, the author retraces the area’s expansive legacy to its early roots as a lima bean plantation in the late 19th century, when two converging underground streams made the area farm-friendly, and then as an unproductive oil field at the beginning of the 1900s. Clare takes obvious pride in her research, particularly with the minute details of the region’s legacy. She casually dispels rumors about the real reasons the early motion picture industry migrated westward and the true origin of the Beverly Hills name (she offers no answer; it remains a mystery). Once Margaret Anderson constructed her iconic Beverly Hills Hotel and the young city began to face its challenges (water, the encroaching “decency brigade,” etc.), Pickford and Fairbanks established residency there, and the population boom began, which also made it ripe for hungry realtors eager to develop the land. Clare chronicles the diligent political spadework by Pickford, Fairbanks, and their group of eight, who all used their celebrity influence to advocate for the individuality of Beverly Hills and to “keep their Elysium intact and separate.” Thanks to the author’s solid research and intricate detail, this dedicated band of anti-annexationists receive a fitting commemoration.

A fascinating, little-known history on the evolution of an iconic city whose destiny was forever altered by a group of concerned celebrities.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-12134-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2018

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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