An invaluable personal account that fleshes out history.

FROM LOVE FIELD

MY FINAL HOURS WITH PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

Texas Governor John Connally’s wife, who was also in the car when President Kennedy was shot, makes a slender but valid contribution to the assassination story.

Nellie Connally’s eyewitness account is both a poignant personal recollection and a historically interesting record. Aided by veteran coauthor Herskowitz, who collaborated on Connally’s husband’s memoir, In History’s Shadow (1999), she includes all those small details that give recollections immediacy: what she wore (ironically, a pink suit like Jackie’s); what she was thinking about (the dinner the Connallys were to host that night in Austin); and whom she missed (her children, who would be meeting the president at dinner). But Connally was also a politician’s wife who understood the importance of the presidential visit. Texas Democrats were bitterly divided between liberals and conservatives, and though the state was heavily Democratic, it had voted Republican in 1952 and 1956. Many conservative Texans had demonstrated against Democratic political figures, even spitting at native son Lyndon Johnson, and the White House had ostensibly planned this trip to mend political fences. The real reason was more mundane: Kennedy was eager to raise money in the state for his upcoming reelection. Connally describes how well the visit went initially, with enthusiastic crowds sparking her comment as they neared the underpass, “Mr. President, you certainly can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you” (probably the last words Kennedy heard). She recalls the shock of seeing the president and her husband shot, the race to the hospital, and the wait outside with Jackie. John Connally was badly wounded, and his wife feared for his life. As she details his slow recovery, the tight security that surrounded him, and the emotions of those terrible days, the author offers a particularly Texan perspective to the events, expressing the shame she and so many others felt that the assassination had occurred in their state.

An invaluable personal account that fleshes out history.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-59071-014-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Rugged Land

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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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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