Thorough, but too restricted in scope to appeal to general readers.



British historian Earle (The Sack of Panama: Captain Morgan and the Battle for the Caribbean, 2007, etc.) delves into the late-17th-century surge in treasure hunting and the diving technology that accompanied it.

Shipwrecks were all too common in this age of primitive navigation, when vessels frequently collided with reefs, rocks or the coast. Scavengers focused particularly on the routes traversed by riches-laden Spanish galleons as they sailed from the Americas to the mother country. British strongholds Jamaica and Bermuda were the sites of such fantastic Spanish shipwrecks as the Maravillas and the Concepción. The latter, reported to be carrying four million pesos worth of treasure when it sank off the Bahamas, was unearthed in a spectacular 1683 salvage by Boston sea captain William Phips (under permission of the British crown). Unearthed after only two days of searching by four divers, the find made Phips rich and famous. It sparked an epidemic of treasure fever, in particular among those hoping to find Spanish silver in the wrecks from the 1588 Armada off the coast of Ireland. Earle chronicles many of these mostly failed endeavors, including quixotic schemes by Thomas Neale, Richard Long and Collin Hunter, as well as the various attempts to repossess scattered treasure from the fleet of Spanish galleons wrecked in Vigo Bay. Among the numerous innovations in diving equipment that also fueled treasure-seeking mania in the last decade of the 17th century were the diving tub, the sea crab, the diving bell invented by astronomer Edmond Halley and the pump system fashioned by the Braithwaite family. However, Earle’s focus is limited; except for brief mentions of Jules Verne’s work and the recovered logbooks of William Evans, he largely ignores the rich tradition in literature and the arts sparked by treasure hunters.

Thorough, but too restricted in scope to appeal to general readers.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-38039-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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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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