This is not one of Rhodes' major works, but it is an interesting collection of observations on an iconic war that the good...

HELL AND GOOD COMPANY

THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AND THE WORLD IT MADE

Readers who pay attention to the preface will look elsewhere for a definitive history of the Spanish Civil War, but there are plenty of good reasons to continue with this one.

Veteran, prizewinning historian Rhodes (Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, 2011, etc.) delivers a fairly superficial account of the fighting as a backdrop for insightful digressions into the war’s medicine, art and journalism. Foreign volunteers organized and staffed dozens of hospitals whose doctors and nurses worked under appalling conditions and then often went on to write about their experiences. The author extols the many medical advances, which vastly benefited wounded soldiers in future wars. A Spanish doctor, Frederic Durán-Jordà, organized the world’s first mobile transfusion service, which, expanded by legendary Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune, collected and distributed blood to the wounded near the front. Rhodes pauses regularly to describe the Spanish artists working at the time (Picasso and others), whose paintings immortalized the suffering of their people. Even more familiar is the flood of foreign supporters of the Republic who came to fight (George Orwell, Andre Malraux) or report (Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Herbert Mathews). Some of the fighters wrote books now considered classics—e.g., George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia (1938). Nowadays, few read the reportage that emphasized the war’s horrors, Franco’s atrocities and the courage of the Spanish people. It produced widespread sympathy among the democracies, save for their governments, which steadfastly refused to get involved. History has not been kind to their version of events.

This is not one of Rhodes' major works, but it is an interesting collection of observations on an iconic war that the good guys lost but which produced important cultural and therapeutic advances.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9621-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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