An enjoyable account of an amazing human accomplishment.

THE CYCLIST WHO WENT OUT IN THE COLD

ADVENTURES RIDING THE IRON CURTAIN

A gung-ho English cyclist tackles the Iron Curtain Trail, aka the Euro Velo 13.

In this daring “ride too far,” as his wife put it, Moore (Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy, 2015, etc.) chronicles a grueling 10,000-km bike ride over 90 days and through 20 countries, most of which were formerly in the Eastern Bloc. The real kicker here is not the distance—from Kirkenes, Finland, to Tsarevo, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast—but the type of vehicle he rode: an archaic East German–made MIFA 900, which was to Iron Curtain biking until 1990 as Trabants were to driving. A three-month car trip Moore took with his wife in 1990, just weeks after the Berlin Wall came down, serves as a nostalgic frame for this ambitious trek and informs the author’s affection for the small-framed “Communist shopping bicycle” he insisted on using in the name of authenticity—though he had to modify it somewhat for the journey. Starting in Finland in March, he faced deep snowfall and incredulous observers along the way, and there are some hilarious photos accompanying the tweets he made at the time and sketches of the route. The main worries were how to get enough to eat, which was a real problem in Romania (he lost many pounds), and fending off the stray dogs that often followed him menacingly. What he witnessed—through Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, and so on—was the state of the demise of socialism. Some places were more triumphant than others, and the most troubling country was Russia, where he glimpsed the shocking polarization between rich and poor. Moore offers a smattering of history—World War II and the Soviet era—in this engaging, elucidating narrative, though some American readers may tire of the spasmodic writing and relentless Briticisms.

An enjoyable account of an amazing human accomplishment.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-299-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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