Plenty of good material, but this unfocused text will be of interest mainly to scholars.

A portrait of London’s famous intellectual neighborhood before Virginia Woolf and her friends moved in.

“It was in the nineteenth century that [Bloomsbury] acquired its distinctive, important, and above all progressive role in the life of both London and the nation,” writes Ashton (English Language and Literature/University College London; 142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London, 2006, etc.), a good point that she makes as repetitiously as she does every other point in this informative but dull text. Although the British Museum had been located in Bloomsbury since it opened in 1759, the story of Victorian Bloomsbury begins in the 1820s with the construction of a grand new building for the museum and with the establishment of the University of London, designed to offer higher education at prices more affordable than those of Oxford and Cambridge and without the religious test that prevented non-Anglicans from attending Oxbridge. Now known as University College London, the school was attacked from the start as a hotbed of godless radicalism. Bloomsbury was indeed an important center for Victorian liberalism, home to institutions designed to educate women, members of the working class and young children, as well as to nonconformist religious institutions and one of the city’s first settlement houses. The author’s claim that “from the eighteenth century onwards Bloomsbury was central to medical progress” seems more dubious, something of an excuse to include a history of the University College Hospital. Yes, the hospital was the site of the first use of anesthesia in Europe, but there is more here about the ins and outs of its personnel than seems necessary. Victorian Bloomsbury is a mildly specious catchall that muddies the particulars of the book one senses Ashton really wanted to write: a history of University College London.

Plenty of good material, but this unfocused text will be of interest mainly to scholars.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-300-15447-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012


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



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. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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