An action-packed Western brimming with historical authenticity.

CIVIL BLOODS

A Civil War–era drama follows the adventures of two close-knit brothers. 

Joe McSweeney is only 17 and has enjoyed a comfortable existence provided by his father’s entrepreneurialism in Tennessee, but he is still chomping at the bit to join the Confederate Army. In his eyes, the war is less a fight over slavery than a financially motivated power grab by a tyrannical North. His younger brother, Jim, decides to enlist with him, but shortly after their newly formed company heads for the Missouri border to join up with its battalion, they’re ambushed by Union soldiers. The two boys, and their only slightly older sergeant, O’Brien, are captured and sent to Camp Douglas, a detention center infamous for its gruesome conditions: “Horror stories began to circulate among the newcomers. Men were found dead every morning from frostbite, starvation, and even scurvy. The treatment of the prisoners was abhorrent at best.” The brothers, along with O’Brien, escape and make their way to Milwaukee to see their Uncle Steve. They all then travel to Dundee to purchase some property with a view to starting a tavern that is also a casino and brothel. However, Jim’s wound from his Army days and the grim remembrances of the war plague him. Also, as it becomes clear the South will lose, the brothers suffer from anti-Confederate sentiment, which threatens both their business and their lives. Debut author Nelson packs a lot of plot into this brief novella, and every page keeps it moving at an urgent pace. Also, it’s historically astute and sensitively explores dimensions of the Civil War that go beyond the contention over slavery. Much of the novel is driven by well-executed portrayals of pursuit and combat, and an appearance is made by the notorious James brothers in the book’s climactic conclusion. Some of the repetitions grow tiresome—Nelson too often refers to “the look” the brothers knowingly share. However, this is still an entertaining view of 19th-century America. 

An action-packed Western brimming with historical authenticity. 

Pub Date: June 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-68139-450-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Page Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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