A vivid portrait of pirate life, and even better as an analysis of why the ruthless outlaws were so peculiarly suited for...

EMPIRE OF BLUE WATER

CAPTAIN MORGAN’S GREAT PIRATE ARMY, THE EPIC BATTLE FOR THE AMERICAS, AND THE CATASTROPHE THAT ENDED THE OUTLAWS’ BLOODY REIGN

Colorful history of the five-decade piratical assault on Spain’s tottering New World empire.

Port Royal, Jamaica, England’s tenuous toehold in the West Indies, was home to runaway slaves, indentured servants, adventurers, political refugees and other refuse of the New World who constituted the pirate armies of Edward Mansfield and Henry Morgan. Under a thin veil of “commissions” issued by Governor Thomas Modyford, these privateers plundered the wealthy, vastly dispersed Spanish empire, whose outdated weapons, hardened bureaucracy and provincial rivalries exposed it to marauders who had nothing to lose and staggering riches to gain. With absolutely no interest in occupation, no guaranteed food supplies outside their home ports, no access to repair facilities for their ships and no stockades to protect them, the pirate armies prized daring and risk-taking, wanted only treasure and depended upon their reputation for terror to get it. With the possible exception of Francis L’Ollonais, no pirate leader exceeded Henry Morgan’s talent for cruelty, and no one matched his success. Talty (Mulatto America, 2003) chronicles Morgan’s flamboyant 33-year career, including the sacks of Granada, Portobelo, Maracaibo and Panama, as well as his quest for respectability as a landowner and protector of Jamaica. (The longer timeframe gives this book a potential edge over Peter Earle’s excellent but more narrowly focused The Sack of Panamá, Feb. 2007) Arrested in 1672, Morgan was deported to England to answer for his depredations. On second thought, Charles II knighted him, returned him to the island as deputy governor and charged him with ridding the area of . . . pirates. This he largely achieved before dying ingloriously of dropsy in 1688, four years in advance of Port Royal’s destruction by a devastating earthquake and tsunami viewed by many as God’s judgment on the wickedest city on earth.

A vivid portrait of pirate life, and even better as an analysis of why the ruthless outlaws were so peculiarly suited for success against hapless Spain.

Pub Date: April 17, 2007

ISBN: 0-307-23660-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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