A distinguished work of popular history. (photos, maps, not seen)


A sweeping, impressively argued portrait of the dawn of the modern age that is also the most ambitious work yet by French

historian Bernier (Fireworks at Dusk, 1993, etc.). In 1800, Bernier notes, the "Europeanization of the world" was well underway: European ideas and European technology were stirring up change in almost every part of the globe and, even more vividly, European nations were extending their sway by conquest or economic dominance throughout Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. European conflicts were not, of course, anything new. But two events at the end of the 18th century—namely, the American and French revolutions—changed European politics forever and provided an enduring lesson for the wider world. The flourishing American republic provided a model of democratic government that would prove profoundly attractive and influential over the next two centuries, while the French revolution—larger, bloodier, and far more alarming—threw into question the 18th century's serene belief in the power of reason. It also served as the testing ground for a host of new institutions and ideas—state bureaucracies, standing national armies, new classes and social orders—and opened the way for the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, who quickly became the single most influential figure on the continent. Bernier focuses on the twilight of the French Revolution and Napoleon's rise. He also devotes considerable space to tracing an outline of the fledgling years of the American republic, offering shrewd and original readings of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Although he is not, by and large, concerned with depicting the lives and experiences of the poor and laboring classes, Bernier is able to offer a panoramic portrait of the impact of new ideas on the world by focusing on leaders and thinkers and the events they precipitated.

A distinguished work of popular history. (photos, maps, not seen)

Pub Date: March 3, 2000

ISBN: 0-471-30371-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2000

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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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