ANCIENT GREECE

A POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY

From Pomeroy (Classics/Hunter Coll.), Stanley M. Burstein (History/Calif. State U niv., Los Angeles), Walter Donlan (Classics/Univ. of Calif., Irvine), and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts (Classics/City Coll. of New York), a comprehensive narrative history that emphasizes the “astonishing creativity, versatility, and resilience” of the culture shaped by the ancient Greeks. A poor, backward people occupying barely cultivable land on the periphery of the Mediterranean world, the Bronze Age Hellenes or Greeks (c. 3000—1150 b.c.) seem in retrospect an unlikely bet to become the progenitors of a great world civilization. While Bronze Age Greece eventually developed a distinctive culture and power base at Mycenae (c. 1600—1100 b.c. ), it derived most of its industrial skills from its more highly developed neighbors around the Mediterranean basin. And beginning around 1150 b.c., the authors speculate, a mysterious wave of invaders from the north wiped out the brilliant Mycenaean civilization, reducing Greek society to a culturally primitive “dark age” until around 750 b.c. The authors’ account treats aspects of Greek life for which primary sources are sparse—the role of women, for instance—but it doesn—t neglect the amazing political, artistic, architectural, philosophical, and literary achievements of classical Athens and other cities. The authors detail the development of Athens and Sparta, the creative tensions between them that helped defend Greece from Persian invasion, the ruinous wars that vitiated the Greek polis or city-state, and the extensive colonization (by the city-states) and conquest (by Alexander the Great) that spread Greek civilization from modem France to what is now Pakistan. While the Hellenistic kingdoms that resulted from the Alexandrian conquest were brutally absorbed into the Roman super-state, the cultural legacy of Greece remained pervasively influential in the Roman world and exerted a profound effect on the rise of Christianity. An accessible and well-balanced introduction to the culture and history of ancient Greece, useful for both student and general reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-19-509742-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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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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