The gritty details of a chapter of American history that still resonates strongly.



An analysis of the forces that led to Barry Goldwater’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate of 1964.

The era of Perlstein’s Goldwater is not so far from ours. The second most charismatic politician alive in the early 1960s (after John Kennedy), Goldwater was a man before his time. He was a relative outsider who knocked heads with the greats of the past (Kennedy, Johnson, Rockefeller, and Nixon), but more important were his associations with the heroes (Ronald Reagan and William Rehnquist) of more recent conservative triumphs. Goldwater’s crusade was against moderation, and his jeremiads convinced millions to support him. He argued that civil-rights legislation would create a police state; he felt the US should be prepared for an all-out nuclear war; he saw unions as oppressors of the working class. His rhetoric gained an audience, Perlstein argues, because of the many fractures present in the Republican Party at the time. While the Rockefeller Republicans haggled with Nixon (Perlstein describes Rocky as a “collector of chits”), Goldwater waited. He enjoyed the backing of a cadre of marginal party officials, led by expert political operatives like Clif White, who were preparing to seize the nomination. Perlstein documents every backroom meeting, every press conference, every turn of events that led to the Goldwater troops realizing that goal. The troops are what’s important here: Goldwater the man is just one aspect of Goldwater the movement. The attention to detail and the cast of characters is at times tiresome, but will be a marvelous resource for political scientists. Perlstein, who writes for the Nation clearly delights at relating Johnson's landslide defeat of the Arizona senator, yet he conveys the mindset of a Goldwater supporter with respect, asking readers to put themselves in the shoes of small businessmen bogged down by unions and the New York financial establishment.

The gritty details of a chapter of American history that still resonates strongly.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8090-2859-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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