Feisty and learned: first-rate reading for any American who suspects that Fox News may not be telling the whole story.

BAGHDAD BURNING

GIRL BLOG FROM IRAQ

Riverbend is an Iraqi woman of 24 who “survived the war. That’s all you need to know,” she wrote on the first day of her Weblog, August 17, 2003. “It’s all that matters these days anyway.”

Throughout this vivid account of occupied Iraq, though—seen here in a literal transcription of her first year’s worth of blog entries—we learn a lot more: we learn that in Baghdad, you wake up either in a jolt, after a scream or a gunshot, or slowly, fuzzily, pulling out of a hazy sleep in which you struggled against some horrific specter; that our blogger can’t go outside her home without a male escort, unless she wants to be insulted, leered and jeered at, possibly kidnapped; and that though she practices Islam, she does not want an Islamic government. Riverbend excoriates Bush and the “puppets” he has put in place to rule Iraq. She comments on everything from the financing of reconstruction and the shenanigans at Halliburton to the feasibility of a Kurdish state and the impact of Islamic Shari’a law on women. She also charts an ordinary life—ordinary, that is, in decidedly unordinary circumstances. While en route to visit an aunt, for instance, she decides not to wear sunglasses, lest she attract “undue attention” at a checkpoint. Meanwhile, she’s determined to correct what she perceives as bigoted ideas about Iraq: Iraq is home to many engineers and other professionals, she insists; Iraqis have computers (apparently, when her blog first started, some naysayers charged that Riverbend couldn’t possibly be Iraqi, because Iraqis don’t have or know how to use computers, let alone how to write in Riverbend’s polished English), and Iraqis will happily watch American films and drink American sodas. They simply don’t want to die at American hands, or live under American rule.

Feisty and learned: first-rate reading for any American who suspects that Fox News may not be telling the whole story.

Pub Date: May 2, 2005

ISBN: 1-55861-489-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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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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