Tzouliadis’s narrative—though rather tuneless—holds the reader’s attention and illuminates an overlooked chapter in...

THE FORSAKEN

AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY IN STALIN’S RUSSIA

The Cold War began in the 1930s, to judge by this narrative of strange events within the borders of the old Soviet Union. It’s just that no one thought to tell the Americans.

British TV journalist Tzouliadis turns up an intriguing tale in the undocumented Depression-era migration that took tens of thousands of Americans to the Soviet Union, recruited for their technical skills in a time of widespread joblessness at home. They did not have to be persuaded; a Soviet trade agency in New York advertised 6,000 positions and received more than 100,000 applications, Tzouliadis reports. Few were communists or fellow travelers; most listed disgust with conditions at home as a more powerful reason than “interest in Soviet experiment” for their exodus. One reason for disgust was Jim Crow, and African-Americans fleeing racism figured prominently in the wave of migration. Once in Russia, the Americans lived as Americans do abroad. Some blended in, others banded together, formed baseball teams, searched out their compatriots—and they worried when their children seemed to be “turning out just a little too ‘Red’ ” after a spell in the Soviet school system. Things turned sour, though, after 1936, in the years of Stalinist purges, when all things foreign were suspect and the elite of Russian culture and politics were killed off. The Americans, one by one, started to disappear into the Gulag. Diplomat George Kennan observed that the Soviets justified this by unilaterally making Americans citizens of the Soviet Union, thus negating their rights. “Logically we should refuse to recognize the naturalization of Americans in the Soviet Union as voluntary and valid in the absence of confirmation,” Kennan wrote, but instead the U.S. government did nothing—and would do nothing when, a decade later, Americans taken prisoner during World War II, even though allies, were shipped to the Gulag, joined still later by POWs during the Korean War.

Tzouliadis’s narrative—though rather tuneless—holds the reader’s attention and illuminates an overlooked chapter in 20th-century history, revealing larger trends in relations between Russia and the United States that persist today.

Pub Date: July 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59420-168-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2008

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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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