THE AFGHAN SYNDROME

THE SOVIET UNION'S VIETNAM

An ambitious attempt to take stock of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, by Russian military experts with access to previously unpublished archival material. Sarin (a serving major general who's a top editor of Red Star, the daily newspaper of the erstwhile USSR's armed forces) and Dvoretsky (a retired-colonel-turned-journalist) make a serious effort to come to grips with the sociopolitical impact of a dirty, undeclared war against the people of an ostensibly friendly neighbor that dragged on from late 1979 until early 1989. The authors offer a succinct rundown on Afghanistan's turbulent history; blunt analyses of the Kremlin's postinvasion blundering; orders of battle on both sides (complete with vivid takes on the mortal perils endured by the poorly trained young conscripts Moscow sent to fight rebel tribesman in a harsh land); poignant accounts of the hostility with which returning combat vets were greeted on the home front; and a kaleidoscopic overview of Afghanistan's lingering legacy throughout the former USSR. The authors conclude that, while the restructuring of Soviet society and values might have occurred had there been no enervating conflict, ``the Afghan tragedy made perestroika inevitable.'' They also argue that the costly, bloody struggle produced no winners: While the force of Soviet arms prevented the mujahidin from overthrowing the puppet regime in Kabul, military might proved unequal to the task of quelling or controlling a grass-roots revolt that was covertly aided by the US. At every opportunity in their heartfelt tract (the translation of which is serviceable at best), Sarin and Dvoretsky seize on dour determinations of this sort to remind their countrymen and the world that Afghanistan was a game not worth the candle. A lest-we-forget reckoning Ö la Russe. (The earnest text has 48 b&w photos—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-89141-420-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Presidio/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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