CITIZEN SOLDIERS

FROM THE NORMANDY BEACHES TO THE BULGE TO THE SURRENDER OF GERMANY, JUNE 7, 1944 TO MAY 7, 1945

A worthy sequel to Ambrose's 1994 D-Day. Bestselling historian Ambrose (Undaunted Courage, 1996) uses firsthand recollections of combat veterans on both sides to flesh out his well-researched narrative. He picks up the epic drama by following, almost step by step, various individuals and outfits among the tens of thousands of young Allied soldiers who broke away from the deadly beaches of Normandy and swept across France to the Ardennes, fought the Battle of the Bulge, captured the famed bridge at Remagen, and crossed the wide Rhine to final victory in Europe. Ambrose observes that the US broke the Nazi war machine with massive aerial bombing, artillery, and the great mobility of attacking tanks and infantry. But, he argues, it was not technology but the valor and character of the young GIs and their European counterparts that ultimately proved too much for the vaunted German forces. While generally approving of Allied military leadership, Ambrose faults Eisenhower and Bradley as too conservative and believes the great human and materiel cost of victory could have been reduced by adopting Patton's more innovative and bolder knockout movements. He deplores the sending of inadequately trained 18-year-olds as replacements on the front lines, where they suffered much higher casualty rates than the foxhole-wise GI veterans. The troops fought under the worst possible conditions in the Ardennes, during the worst winter in 40 years; Ambrose describes the long, freezing snowy nights; the wounds, frostbite, and trench foot; and the fatigue and the tensions of facing sudden death or maiming. The troops rallied to drive the enemy back to the Rhine and into Germany, but took some 80,000 casualties. With remarkable immediacy and clarity, as though he had trained a telescopic lens on the battlefields, Ambrose offers a stirring portrayal of the terror and courage experienced by men at war.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-81525-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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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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