THE LAST FULL MEASURE

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE FIRST MINNESOTA VOLUNTEERS

One of the few first-rate small-unit histories of the Civil War, expertly conceived and gracefully written by the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The rule in modern Civil War studies seems to be that the more ``micro'' the focus, the duller the book. Moe's tale of one of the first volunteer regiments to enlist after the fall of Fort Sumter is a happy exception, a worthy companion to John Pullen's The Twentieth Maine (1980) and Warren Wilkinson's Mother, May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen (1991). Fresh from the farms, small settlements, and logging camps of a western frontier unknown to most of the Army of the Potomac, most of the Minnesotans who responded to the federal government's initial attempt to augment its small regular army had never seen a big city or a black American: The war proved a profound learning experience—and not merely in the school of combat. At first, the Minnesotans were afraid that they would have to sit out the war on Indian patrol, but then—even before they received regular uniforms—they were brought east to add to the Union corpses at First Bull Run. During that disastrous reversal, they stood as long as any federal troops, and their toughness was exhibited again and again on the Peninsula and at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and, finally, Gettysburg (where one of the two brothers Moe follows through the book was killed). In addition to battle history, we learn how enlisted men felt about long months on picket duty; what they ate (when they did eat); and how they related to the civilian population. Moe makes judicious use of the period's ubiquitous diaries and letters, as well as fascinating columns sent home to local newspapers by soldier- correspondents writing under pen names like ``Raisins'' and ``Shingles.'' A seamless narrative of Civil War sights, sounds, and emotions that deserves the warmest reception. (Photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: April 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-8050-2309-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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