An encyclopedic reference work to be consulted but likely not completely read by anyone other than fellow academics.

HEART OF EUROPE

A HISTORY OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE

Wilson (History/Univ. of Hull; The Thirty Years War: Europe’s Tragedy, 2009, etc.) delves into the makeup, structure, and lands of the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted “more than a millennium, well over twice as long as imperial Rome itself.”

Beginning with the coronation of Charlemagne in 800, the empire lasted until the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars brought about its dissolution. The author takes Voltaire to task with his comment that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, and he meticulously explains how it was structured and ruled. The Holy Roman Empire was unlike any other, defined by countless autonomous kingdoms led by an emperor with a divine mission. The emperor combined secular and ecclesiastical roles, and he existed as a protector of the papacy—but not a master. The empire lacked the things that constituted a single political core, such as a stable heartland, a capital city, central political institutions, or even a single “nation.” The Reichstag, representing the imperial estates, not the general population, had a broader remit than other countries, enacting law codes, military regulations, and policy implementation. The author avoids chronological narration, arguing that the empire never had a linear development. He traces the power and influence of the imperial church system and the educated clergy as well as the lords’ power over clerical appointments. As princes gained power, structure switched to a status hierarchy, persistent and increasingly rigid. To explain the details of this nebulous empire ruled by autonomous princes, Wilson takes thoroughness to a painful threshold. Many aspects can only be pinpointed with semantics. The author’s scholarship is unassailable, and his writing ability is clean and readable, but the subject is just too convoluted and even tedious to readers without deep historical background knowledge of this enormous federation.

An encyclopedic reference work to be consulted but likely not completely read by anyone other than fellow academics.

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-674-05809-5

Page Count: 1008

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more