The authors shine a light on a dark corner of the struggle for American independence.

THE SPIRIT OF '74

HOW THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION BEGAN

A well-conceived work of popular history that fills a gap in the chronology of the American Revolution.

The period between the Boston Tea Party, which took place at the end of 1773, and the first revolutionary battles at Lexington and Concord, which took place in April 1775, is unknown to most general readers and often overlooked even by professional historians’ accounts of the Revolutionary War. Yet they were crucial, as Ray (Founding Myths, 2014, etc.) and Marie Raphael (A Boy from Ireland, 2007, etc.) ably document. Tea, write the authors, was but one of five goods on which Parliament levied taxes, but while it backed off on the other four, it held to tea as a more-than-symbolic gesture of imperial power that “became the symbol of its oppressive policies.” While Parliament debated what to do about the upstarts in Boston, colonial committees and militias formed in more or less open rebellion. More important, during the 16-month gap, the rebels formed the basis of independent government. As the Raphaels write, when their rejection of British suzerainty placed the people of Worcester County, Massachusetts, in a so-called state of nature or mere anarchy, they stepped up and figured out how to rule themselves: “That the Worcester County Convention presumed it could appoint men to government posts, although it possessed no legal claim to do so, was in and of itself revolutionary.” The period also revealed divisions in Colonial society. In Massachusetts, loyalists tended to cluster near fall-line cities while revolutionaries abounded in the western counties. Radicals and moderates argued about what to do with the newly formed militias even as formerly restrained British garrisons began to itch with punitive desire and Colonial governor Thomas Gage came to regard the colonists “for what they now were, near enemies”—and enemies who were better prepared for war than the British authorities imagined.

The authors shine a light on a dark corner of the struggle for American independence.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62097-126-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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