That aside, Iron Tears does a respectable job of sorting through the causes of the colonial break.



Prolific historian Weintraub (General Washington’s Christmas Farewell, 2003, etc.) turns in a readable survey of the American Revolution, concentrating on political battles more than military ones.

The phrase “iron tears” is Edmund Burke’s. A member of Parliament at the time, Burke worried, Weintraub writes, whether the “inevitable separation” of Britain from its colonies was worth a war that would be fought as much in sadness as in anger. Burke’s peers were less concerned with such things, and when Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766, its members overwhelmingly reasserted that body’s authority to make law and policy for the colonies, much against the wishes of the growing self-rule movement across the water. (Interestingly, Weintraub notes, “one of the tiny band of five peers to vote against the bill . . . in sympathy with colonial grievances was . . . Lord Charles Cornwallis, twenty-seven, and a colonel of the 33rd Foot, who would change his mind when the colonists took to arms.”) Weintraub skillfully guides his readers through the tangled politics of the time, writing of the struggles that surrounded both the revolutionary effort and King George’s campaigns to control his government, particularly as antiwar sentiment grew in London. Along the way, Weintraub explains why it was that George and his commanders resorted early on to the use of mercenary soldiers, so outraging the colonists: The defeated Irish and Scots couldn’t be trusted, and arming proletarian Englishmen posed similar risks. William Pitt correctly predicted the outcome: If foreigners were to occupy his nation, he argued, then, “I would never lay down my arms—never—never—never!” Why, then, would the colonists do otherwise? Weintraub’s accounts of various armed engagements are good but hurried. Readers with an interest in the military history of the Revolution will want to turn to sources such as Robert Middlekauff’s essential The Glorious Cause (1985).

That aside, Iron Tears does a respectable job of sorting through the causes of the colonial break.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2687-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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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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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. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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