Still, there’s not much drama in this tale, for all the chest-beating involved. One supposes that the retiring Miss...



In which mustachioed brigands, having stolen away a virtuous American schoolmarm, set off a diplomatic incident that threatens to bring Teddy Roosevelt’s warships to the gates of the Dardanelles.

In 1901, writes Carpenter (Mob Girl, 1992), the missionary schoolteacher Ellen Stone was kidnapped “by a band of unidentified revolutionaries” in the Balkan hinterlands of the Ottoman Empire. Stone had done nothing in particular to bring the event about; the Macedonian nationalists who took her, by Carpenter’s account, had been casting about for a target for quite some time, having considered but then ruled out stealing away a six-year-old Bulgarian prince and assorted other local dignitaries. But Americans, the revolutionaries reasoned, had cash, and the ransom would enable them to buy plenty of guns to turn on their Turkish oppressors. The price for her freedom and that of her fellow missionary Katerina Tsilka, they told Stone, would be 25,000 lira, or $110,000—and “if it is not paid,” they warned, “there will be a bullet for you and a bullet for her.” Long episodes of diplomatic wrangling and haggling, to say nothing of bullying and blustering from the Roosevelt White House, follow, until Stone is finally allowed to go free, slipping into Austria and obscurity. Carpenter does a competent enough job of dusting off this little-remembered tale and of filling in the gaps in the crumbled newsprint, and in her hands the villainous Macedonian rebels of the headlines turn out to have had a point, if not much strategic sense. She gives a fair account, too, of the complex politics of the Balkans, through which an evidently simple kidnapping becomes a matter of honor, revenge, and interethnic rivalry.

Still, there’s not much drama in this tale, for all the chest-beating involved. One supposes that the retiring Miss Stone—who gently remarked that her kidnappers “had worked hard for their booty”—would be embarrassed by all the attention.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-0055-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet