The great artists, explorers and scientists of the period are well-noted, but La Serenissima is the true subject of this...

THE VENETIANS

A NEW HISTORY: FROM MARCO POLO TO CASANOVA

The story of the spirit of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

Novelist and nonfiction author Strathern (The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped, 2011, etc.) points out that Venice was, for hundreds of years, a commercial republic, a trade center happy to flaunt her wealth, and highly pragmatic in her politics, diplomacy and religion. Her navy was world famous, and with good reason; the most famous condottiere, Bartolomeo Colleoni (1400–1475), actually dragged ships over a mountain to Lake Garda to relieve Brescia from Milanese forces. Strathern deftly weaves the history of the near-continuous wars with Genoa and Milan into short biographical sketches of the Venetian giants of the arts and sciences. She fostered so many innovations, they’re difficult to list. Her bureaucracy was second to none, and it served as the birthplace of statistics, double-entry accounting and the concept of the assembly line (which could outfit a galley in the time it took to eat dinner). It was the home of the first journalist, satirist Pietro Aretino (1492–1556), and, thanks to the printing press, the first regular newspaper. The presses were also able to spread the music of opera, and the first tourist guide was published in 1581, 16 years after “Il Catalogo…(The Catalogue of All the Main and Less Honoured Courtesans of Venice).” Venice also served as the bulwark against the Eastern empires, but when her powers weakened, the Ottomans and, finally, Napoleon put an end to her greatness. After the French army left, writes the author, “[t]he 1,000-year-old Republic of Venice was no more.”

The great artists, explorers and scientists of the period are well-noted, but La Serenissima is the true subject of this book, and a better inducement to visit would be hard to find.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60598-489-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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