An absolute treat. Hopefully, the New Yorker will continue to publish such anthologies on other decades.

THE 40s


Make room on the bookshelf. The New Yorker’s look at 1940s history, culture, literature and civilization is a book to be read, reread and savored.

Divided into seven sections—The War, American Scenes, Postwar, Character Studies, The Critics, Poetry and Fiction—this book shows how founder Harold Ross (1892-1951) could single out the most important aspects of history and culture—and not just of New York, but of the country. As a further bonus, each of the sections features an introduction from a contemporary writer; these include George Packer, Zadie Smith, Susan Orlean, David Denby and Louis Menand. After the war, the magazine, toning down its New York–centric stance, experienced a journalistic awakening. In this book, the editors begin each section with a short explanation of the genre followed by “Notes and Comments” by the eternally delightful personification of the New Yorker, E.B. White. Readers are certain to enjoy the beautiful writing, clever thinking and insightful thoughts across a vast range of topics. To choose an article, poem or short story from this great wealth of writing is beyond difficult: There is Lillian Ross’ indictment of the House Un-American Activities Committee; Joseph Mitchell’s article on McSorley’s Old Ale house, the oldest Irish tavern in New York City; Richard O. Boyer’s profile of Duke Ellington, who took jazz from New Orleans bawdy houses to Paris and beyond; and E.J. Kahn’s hagiographic profile of the widowed Eleanor Roosevelt. Don’t look for cartoons—they’ve had enough coffee-table books of their own; this is the soul of the New Yorker. An abbreviated list of the contributors includes such luminaries as Edmund Wilson, Rebecca West, A.J. Liebling, George Orwell, W.H. Auden, John Hersey, Langston Hughes, Carson McCullers and William Maxwell.

An absolute treat. Hopefully, the New Yorker will continue to publish such anthologies on other decades.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-679-64479-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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