A gruesome, chilling anthropology lesson from an unconventional instructor.



Sharp, lucid examination of Australia’s establishment as a white-occupied country, largely effected by the genocidal treatment and displacement of the aboriginal population.

Swedish historian Lindqvist (“Exterminate All the Brutes,” 1996, etc.) focuses his inquisitive eye on one particular territory: the flat, barren Moorundie, inconspicuously occupied for 5,000 years by the Ngaiawong tribe. Visiting the area in 1839, John Eyre deemed it “paradise…an ideal site for settlement” and promptly purchased 1,411 acres from the Australian government. “An unspoken condition of the sale,” writes Lindqvist, was that the land “was what was called ‘terra nullius,’ no one’s land.” It didn’t belong to anyone else in the eyes of encroaching white leaders, who countered Ngaiawong resistance with a massacre that nearly eradicated the entire tribe. Whites became the dominant force, led by Alice Springs mounted policeman William Willshire, who in the 1880s and ’90s executed without trial as many as 1,000 Aborigines, mostly for cattle-stealing. Lindqvist covers an impressive amount of ground in his characteristically dense, comprehensive narrative, which is invigorated by pages of illustrations, the author’s vivid dreams and chapters on Australian oddities. The country’s history, geology, botany, distinctive landscape, beguiling kangaroo culture and theories on kinship are all given their due. This lighter material tempers the grim descriptions of merciless carnage inflicted on Aborigines, forcible internment on bleak coastal islands of tribal women infected with syphilis by white men and brutal relocation of “half-castes,” fair-skinned, often mixed-blood Aborigines who were removed from their families and sent to perform manual labor for whites. Lindqvist praises the resiliency and artistic skills of the Aborigines, expressing hope that one day the Australian government will pay the “moral debt” it owes this long-suffering people.

A gruesome, chilling anthropology lesson from an unconventional instructor.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59558-051-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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...


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.



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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