A timely, valuable resource for those who want a deeper understanding of a troubled region.



A panoramic history of the Iranian people rediscovers their original sources of moral and political strength while dissecting the causes of their cultural decline.

Saney, an Iranian-born academic and lawyer with several titles under his belt, provides a sweeping history of Iran as a “tool to describe the cultural scene.” The first seven of 10 chapters exhaustively describe the arc of Iran’s development, from the rise of the Persian Empire and its ultimate decline through a dizzying succession of dynastic rulers. Not content to merely offer an empirical catalogue of events, Saney mines Iranian history for clues about its essential character, detailing the many accomplishments and contributions proffered to the world. Once a crucible of creative achievement in the region—the Athens of the Middle East—Iran was a center of innovation in architecture, music, literature and science. So what happened? Saney attaches Iran’s general descent to a gradual surrender of its own unique culture after languishing under a train of despotic Arab and Turkish rulers. The painful experience of tyranny broke the Iranian spirit, and the rise of an oppressive Islamic rule substituted a stultifying Muslim order for their indigenous Zoroastrianism. This shifted their cultural focus from “universal benevolence to sectarian prejudice,” “sexual equality to the subordination of women” and, even more fundamentally, from “cheerful vision to mournful existence.” Along the way, Saney also explains the extraordinary influence of Zoroastrianism on Judaism and Christianity; their profound connection may be shocking to readers familiar only with the yawning chasms that divide the religions today. This impressively erudite study is saturated by scholarly detail, which could fatigue the amateur historian; however, it is also rigorous and clear, refreshingly shorn of ideological baggage, and unencumbered by hyperspecialized academic jargon.

A timely, valuable resource for those who want a deeper understanding of a troubled region.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1463557003

Page Count: 404

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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