A welcome contribution to the history of Texas, Westward expansion and Native America.




An appropriately fast-paced life of Comanche leader Quanah Parker and his band, the last Native free riders on the plains.

Former Time editor and correspondent Gwynne (The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the Secret Heart of BCCI, 1993, etc.) approaches Parker’s life as news, opening with an intriguing gambit—namely, that Parker, who died in 1911, had an Anglo mother who, as he said, “love Indian and wild life so well, no want to go back to white folks.” Where his mixed blood might have been a demerit in other Indian groups—and certainly in white society of the time—Parker rose quickly to the leadership of the Quahadi band of Comanches as a young man of perhaps only 20. As Gwynne notes, the Comanches kept the Spanish empire from spreading onto the plains beyond Texas, making even the Apaches farther west seem a mild threat by comparison. The Quahadi band, whom he characterizes as “magnificently aloof,” were the toughest of the lot. When Americans entered the picture in the 1830s and beyond, the Quahadis fought them so hard that by the 1870s whole counties formerly settled by Texas ranchers and farmers were depopulated. Parker’s tough leadership eventually proved no match for the combined weight of Texas Rangers, the U.S. Army and other heavily armed enemies, who finally broke the Quahadi resistance after removing other Comanche bands to reservations and reducing their number to no more than 2,000. After surrender, Parker continued to insist on preserving Comanche ways, particularly an illegal peyote cult. Gwynne considers Parker alongside Geronimo, the better-known Apache leader, and finds the latter wanting in the comparison. Parker remained a leader of his people to the end, writes the author, one who “looked resolutely forward toward something better” rather than surrendering to embitterment or allowing himself to be put on display as a wild Indian now tamed. “I no monkey,” he insisted.

A welcome contribution to the history of Texas, Westward expansion and Native America.

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-9105-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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