A brisk, suspenseful World War II narrative from a proven storyteller.

SEVEN DAYS OF INFAMY

PEARL HARBOR ACROSS THE WORLD

In the latest in a wave of books about the Japanese attack, British author and former journalist Best (Five Days that Shocked the World: Eyewitness Accounts from Europe at the End of World War II, 2012, etc.) reaches around the world to ascertain what actually happened near and on Dec. 7, 1941.

Some of the author’s historical snapshots have nothing to do with Pearl Harbor directly—e.g., a glimpse at the German front line close to Moscow, where the Nazis were halted by Russian resistance; or the Hollywood director William Wyler’s making of Mrs. Miniver and his controversial choice of an evil Nazi character rather than a sympathetic German. Yet each of the narrative’s segments reveals how the war was beginning to insinuate itself into everyone’s life, whether one was aware of the events or not: on Dec. 2, Lady Diana and Duff Cooper were entertaining guests on the prize British battleship HMS Prince of Wales just off the British island of Singapore, little suspecting that the Japanese would strike Singapore soon after Pearl Harbor, sink the great ship, overrun the island, and essentially destroy British imperial ambitions. Inside the basement Cabinet War Room in London, Winston Churchill kept his maps to plot the Nazi menace as well as the Japanese forays into the South Pacific; it was there that the staff had lost track of Japan’s aircraft carriers. The author follows closely the severing of diplomatic relations between the Japanese representatives and the Americans and President Franklin Roosevelt’s intuitive act of writing a heart-to-heart letter to Emperor Hirohito at the eleventh hour—which would reach Japan too late. Then there is the tragic story on the ground, where the Navy staff, under the able Adm. Husband Kimmel, essentially did its job but lacked enough of a sense of vigilance or urgency.

A brisk, suspenseful World War II narrative from a proven storyteller.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07801-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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