A rigorous, scrupulously researched study.

Chilling history of the class-fueled institutionalized violence perpetrated mostly by the reactionary Francoists during the Spanish Civil War.

Scholar Preston (London School of Economics; We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War, 2009, etc.) uses the word Holocaust self-consciously but deliberately in this exhaustive treatment of the horrendous violence the Spanish waged against each other to annihilate mutually “undesirable” elements. The friction between the agrarian oligarchy and the landless day laborers and radicalized leftists had been escalating throughout the 1920s, culminating in the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931. However, the reactionary defenders of order, alarmed by the fall of the monarchy and breakdown in status quo, believed the new regime was a “Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over Spain”—therefore violence against it was justified. While the Socialist leader Francisco Largo Caballero propounded revolutionary slogans that incited the hungry masses, the fascist Falange led by General Franco spoke repeatedly of the conspiracy masterminded by the Jews and international foreigners (the contubernio, or “filthy cohabitation”). Preston concentrates on the systematic spread of terror and repression by forces of the right in specific areas of Spain; they moved from town to town, hunting out “reds,” often with the enthusiastic collaboration of the local landowning class. (During this time the poet Federico García Lorca was dragged out and shot.) The right-wing uprising particularly targeted leftist women, who had enjoyed new status and rights under the Republic. Using techniques of terror perfected against the Moroccan population, Franco and his hardened Africanistas moved to subjugate Madrid by slaughter, dismemberment and rape. Preston focuses on the staggering toll of the violence and the Francoist spin that stretches well into the present without proper reckoning.

A rigorous, scrupulously researched study.

Pub Date: March 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-06476-6

Page Count: 676

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012


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



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. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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