Not always easy reading but a book from which more than just Irish citizens can learn.

1916

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF IRISH INDEPENDENCE: FROM THE EASTER RISING TO THE PRESENT

Irish history from the Irish point of view.

That view comes from acclaimed historian Coogan (The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy, 2012, etc.), a true take-no-prisoners writer. The story of Ireland is that of a country struggling against colonialism and the church. The men who fought on Easter 1916 knew they would die; it was their courage that allowed them to hold out for a week. The executions, William Butler Yeats’ poem “Sixteen Dead Men,” and the letter of outrage from Limerick’s bishop roused the country to true revolution. Then came the ugly times of the Black and Tans and Michael Collins’ pioneering urban guerrilla warfare. In 1932, Éamon de Valera, Collins’ true opposite, took charge of the government. It was the zenith of his power, and it continued through World War II, but new voices needed to be heard. The 1950s and ’60s brought a drive for economic expansion with hope of membership in the European Economic Community. The visit of American president John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the changes of the Second Vatican Council also had marked influences on the country. Tourism increased, and there was even a proposal to fund medical aid for women and children, which was powerfully opposed by the church. Here, Coogan throws off the gloves as he lays into the Catholic Church, which ran the schools, institutions, and hospitals—including industrial schools, reformatories, and the Magdalene laundries run by “fallen” girls. The abuses in those institutions are still coming out, and while some restitution has been made, it has been made by the state of Ireland rather than the convents and the diocese. The Celtic Tiger rise of the 1990s and 2000s and the economic collapse lead Coogan to his final plea for “ethical political oversight and…correct governance…that attends to more than short-term financial gain and personal enrichment.” The author also bemoans the departure from the 1916 promises of child care, women’s rights, and social health.

Not always easy reading but a book from which more than just Irish citizens can learn.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-11059-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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