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TWAS THE NIGHT

THE ART AND HISTORY OF THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS POEM

A delightful and informative exploration of “A Visit From St. Nicholas” for the holiday season.

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A nonfiction book offers an in-depth look at the creation and history of a classic Christmas poem.

In celebration of the bicentennial of the Christmas season’s most well-known and oft-recited poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (also commonly referred to as “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas”), McColl provides a collection of illustrations, snippets of literature, and historical tidbits related to Clement Clark Moore’s renowned rhyme. The author’s illuminating peek into the formulation and reception of the poem is well organized, with lovely, colorful images from various sources peppering the pages of text. Readers are given not only the background of the poem—written in 1822 and published in 1823—but also the origins of St. Nicholas and the varying cultural customs tied to Christmas throughout history. For example, McColl notes how Saturnalia was “the most popular festival in the Julian calendar” before Christianity became widespread. Similarly, readers can examine the use of Santa Claus’ image in popular culture—he appears in an Andy Warhol series—and how the belief in witchcraft in Colonial New England affected the region’s holiday celebrations. A highlight of the author’s extensive compilation turns out to be the holiday poems interspersed throughout, such as Louisa May Alcott’s “A Song for a Christmas Tree” (1871) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells” (1863). McColl’s book, which seeks to present “selected images, along with dozens of literary excerpts, to illustrate the way in which…’Twas the Night, drew inspiration from the historical record of artistic expression and winter celebrations in western culture,” does just that. Though mainly told through quotes or passages from others, with some of her own observations sprinkled in between, the author’s commemoration is a detailed, thorough, and beautiful work for lovers of Christmas and fans of the holiday’s most famous poem.

A delightful and informative exploration of “A Visit From St. Nicholas” for the holiday season.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-927979-30-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Grafton and Scratch

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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