IN LOVE WITH NIGHT

THE AMERICAN ROMANCE WITH ROBERT KENNEDY

A persuasive study both of the character of Robert Kennedy and of his persistent hold on the national imagination. “At some point,” Steel writes (Walter Lippmann and the American Century, 1980) “without ever quite intending it, American liberals and even many American conservatives fell in love with Robert Kennedy.” He became in memory a kind of alternative to the disruptive present: If Bobby had become president, “he would have quickly ended the Vietnam War, brought black and white Americans together, alleviated poverty and discrimination, and achieved a more just and humane society.” But would he? While covering the major elements in Kennedy’s life and career, Steel identifies the characteristics that made him such a unique figure on the political landscape of the 1960s. He was, Steel notes, a fervent crusader for whom ideas had real, perhaps tragic consequences. In the grim period following 1963, Bobby was haunted by the fear that his crusades against Fidel Castro and the Mafia may have played some part in his brother’s assassination. Steel is especially persuasive in depicting Bobby’s complex relationship with his brother Jack, a relationship composed, on Bobby’s side, of admiration, devotion, and frustration. One reason LBJ remained so committed to the war in Vietnam, argues Steel, was that Bobby, who was unwilling to accept a defeat there, would roundly criticize LBJ if he were to pull out. And he suggests that, although Bobby in his last years displayed an extraordinary charisma as a critic of the status quo, if he had gained the presidency “he would have had to shed his charisma as redeemer and become . . . what every president ultimately is: a power broker.” Without denying any of Kennedy’s gifts, Steel has produced a substantial rereading of his character, of the turbulent sixties, and of the process of political legend-making in this country. A major work on an American political icon.(16 pages b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-80829-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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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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