An engrossing, peek-between-your-fingers history of an American city on the edge.

THE YEAR OF DANGEROUS DAYS

RIOTS, REFUGEES, AND COCAINE IN MIAMI 1980

Race, cocaine, politics, and corruption all figure in this portrayal of a violent showdown in 1980 Miami.

Miami-based journalist Griffin employs his trade with gusto in this deeply investigated account of real American carnage at the height of the drug war. The narrative begins with the death of Arthur McDuffie, a black former Marine who was killed by police after a high-speed chase. The events that follow would have massive ramifications. Rather than simply depicting the big picture, the author zeroes in on three critical figures to parse the tumult from different points of view: Edna Buchanan was the Miami Herald crime reporter who not only fielded the murder investigation, but unearthed the vein of corruption and police brutality inside the department. Inside the police force, we meet Capt. Marshall Frank, the lead investigator, who characterized the McDuffie case as a “jigsaw puzzle.” Charged with uniting the city in the face of multiple crises was Mayor Maurice Ferré, who engaged the media, the tourist industry, and the city’s powerful businessmen to help a simmering city that was on the verge of falling apart. Two other factors added dynamite to the bonfire. One was the infamous Mariel boatlift, during which Fidel Castro attempted to rid his country of criminals, patients in insane asylums, troublesome activists, and other “antisocial elements” by dumping 125,000 Cuban refugees into the state of Florida. The other was the relatively new phenomenon of cocaine smuggling, which added significantly to both the proliferation of corruption and the city’s crime rate, especially violent crimes. This is a series of stories that have been depicted in other books and publications, but Griffin’s engrossing use of primary sources and cogent analyses of how all the pieces fit together results in a propulsive story about the dangerous ways people learn to live together.

An engrossing, peek-between-your-fingers history of an American city on the edge.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9102-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: 37 Ink/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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