A richly documented history of American culture in the 1950s. Sayre (Running Time: Films of the Cold War, 1982, etc.), a longtime film writer for the New York Times, was a new graduate of Radcliffe College when the Korean War ended. The child of a literary familyher parents were journalists, her godfather the novelist John O'HaraSayre traveled easily among the writers of that time, and some of the best parts of her memoir are fond reminiscences of friends like H.L. Mencken, Edmund Wilson, E.B. White, Cyril Connolly, and James Thurber. She also offers notes on younger contemporaries like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Gregory Corso (who often, she writes with great good humor, tried to relieve her of the bacon from her BLT in times when neither had money for food), and the recently deceased Sally Belfrage. Sayre shifts into a more analytical and less anecdotal mode when writing of the politics and culture of the day. Her accounts of widespread racism, anticommunist extremism, the emerging ``cult of the teenager,'' and rock 'n' roll culture are valuable, and she offers funny, dead-on takes on such passing trends as ``intensely competitive, wrathful gourmet cooking,'' where ``your hostess would tell you angrily that it took three days to make the patÇ, or that she'd been up all night with the aspic, or that stuffing those deviled eggs had nearly driven her insane.'' Sayre writes with an easy, pleasant style, and the overall tone of her reminiscences is that of a favorite aunt telling family stories-not a bad approach at all, given the 1950s' undeserved reputation for having been a drab, conformist, utterly uninteresting time. Good reading for literature and history buffs. (24 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8135-2231-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995

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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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