A thorough account of the alliance between two very different leaders, although written with an extreme pro-Soviet tilt.

ROOSEVELT AND STALIN

PORTRAIT OF A PARTNERSHIP

A comprehensive study of the wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union, as directed by Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

When America entered World War II, the Soviets were fighting for national survival. Stalin desperately needed aid from capitalist America both during and after the war and went to great lengths to please Roosevelt in order to get it. Roosevelt wanted the war to end with the formation of a peacekeeping organization more effective than the League of Nations had been, and he needed both American and Russian participation to achieve this goal. He therefore aimed to draw the previously isolated Soviets into the club of responsible power diplomacy while also acknowledging Russia as an indispensable military ally. Journalist Butler (East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart, 1997, etc.) describes in meticulous detail the proceedings at the Tehran and Yalta conferences, the only times that Roosevelt and Stalin met in person, and shows how the American president, "the glue holding together the alliance," frequently mediated between Stalin and Churchill to keep the allies pulling together. The most striking aspect of the narrative is the portrayal of the big three. Roosevelt appears always as farsighted and sure-footed. Butler clearly loathes Churchill, whom she regards as a racist imperialist "more concerned over preserving Britain's position in Europe than in preserving peace.” Her attempt to claim a moral equivalence between Stalin's rule and British colonial administration is particularly errant. Stalin steps straight out of Soviet propaganda from the 1930s: a wise, perceptive, benign old man. The author asserts that his power rested on charm, not fear; he rehabilitated religion in Russia; he wanted a strong, independent and democratic Poland; he had no intention of imposing communism on European countries by force, and so on. All of this is difficult to credit.

A thorough account of the alliance between two very different leaders, although written with an extreme pro-Soviet tilt.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0307594853

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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