Erudite, sweeping and contemplative—classic Weintraub.

PEARL HARBOR CHRISTMAS

A WORLD AT WAR, DECEMBER 1941

A vivid 11-day account of a World War II holiday.      

As in previous volumes on Christmastime during critical moments in history (General Sherman’s Christmas: Savannah, 1864, 2009, etc.), prolific biographer and military historian Weintraub dramatically recaps the last week and a half of late December 1941. The author’s treatment of the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor centers on two “open wartime allies,” Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, both united under pessimistic speculation to review global strategies. Churchill’s much-ballyhooed attendance at the White House summit was beneficial yet was somewhat marred during a train trip, where he solemnly viewed Virginia’s placid, colorfully lit holiday scenery, a stark contrast to his decrepit wartime British homeland. A master chronicler, Weintraub’s moody, intensively researched play-by-play narrative traces the final days of 1941. Ruminations, anecdotes and creatively reimagined scenarios crisply capture all of the minute details of the time and sequences of events. Adolph Hitler’s sarcasm bleeds through in dispatches of his Nazi reign of terror as Christmas Eve at the White House became a tangle of lights and red ribbon, strained public speeches by the president and prime minister and strategic second-guessing. The author brilliantly juxtaposes the horror and violence of war with the tender nostalgia of Christmas, including gift ideas where “a new Ford or Chevrolet, both soon to be unobtainable, cost $900.” Weintraub cites war memoirs, military dispatches, speeches and diary entries, all to great effect, and he deftly captures the period-authentic food and dress of his subjects (including cameos by the sage, cautionary Eleanor Roosevelt) and the chaotic, edgy essence of battle.

Erudite, sweeping and contemplative—classic Weintraub.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-306-82061-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more