Fans of the Wild West and its pistol-packin’ miscreants will enjoy Clavin’s latest.

A rollicking tale of a Texas lawman and the iron-jawed contingent that rode with him.

Before there were the Texas Rangers, writes Clavin, an old hand at popular Western history, there were other rangers, assembled and deputized mostly to kill Native Americans and Mexicans. One early band “were not technically Rangers but pretty much served as such until Stephen Austin gave them a name.” As Clavin notes, the Mexicans who first allowed the Anglos to settle in Texas soon came to regret the decision. Whereas they had hoped that the new settlers would constitute a buffer between them and raiding Apaches and Comanches, they saw that the newcomers “were not adhering to Catholicism and continued to own slaves,” both violations of Mexican law. The author doesn’t soft-pedal the racist ethos surrounding the Rangers, but neither does he paint a heroic portrait of the likes of Travis and Crockett or the free-shooting pacifiers of the borderlands. One most effective of these early groups was a troop led by a Confederate veteran named Leander McNelly, who lived out a long life enforcing the law on the frontier in parallel with more organized police forces until finally being folded into the Texas Rangers in 1874. McNelly had plenty of scrapes and adventures, and he wasn’t shy about crossing into Mexico, violating international law, when the occasion suited him. Among the most noir of his bêtes noires was the outlaw John Wesley Hardin, who makes a much more interesting figure overall than McNelly. It took years to bring Hardin, elusive and seemingly impervious to bullets until his last moments, to justice, a story that takes up many pages here. McNelly, for his part, helped shape the Texas Rangers into a formidable force, and, as Clavin notes, he was acknowledged as such by being “a member of the first class inducted into the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame” decades after his death.

Fans of the Wild West and its pistol-packin’ miscreants will enjoy Clavin’s latest.

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781250214553

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023


Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.

Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.

Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781668009048

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow


What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.

When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”

What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780525429524

Page Count: 992

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

Close Quickview