The author makes a convincing case that, without France, the United States may never have gained independence.



Financial support and the Marquis de Lafayette were only parts of France’s contribution to America’s success against England.

Shachtman (Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment, 2014, etc.) shares the stories of the many Frenchmen who fought with the Americans against England. Suffering from military cutbacks and reparations from the Seven Years’ War, and attracted by merit promotions rather than their own class-based system, French soldiers eagerly sought commissions in the American Army. Silas Deane, the American agent procuring a commercial alliance for war materiel, was quick to grant French appointments. Hundreds applied, and many were spectacularly qualified, including Louis Duportail, Comte de Ségur, and Vicomte de Noailles; others were supremely incompetent and arrogant bores. Many volunteers refused to serve under George Washington. In fact, Continental Army officer Johann de Kalb planned to replace him with Victor François de Broglie. The Marquis de Lafayette, on the other hand, agreed to serve as an assistant to Washington, becoming as close to him as any son. Shachtman astutely explains France’s point of view as she protected her West Indies holdings, sought a new profitable foreign market, and worked to undermine England. Rather than form an alliance, at first France’s foreign minister, Charles Gravier, encouraged French merchants to ship gunpowder through France’s ports, provided havens for privateers on the sugar islands, and helped Deane obtain supplies. Washington, desperate for French-trained engineers, was delighted to have help in delaying British forces on the Delaware. He relied on Duportail’s counsel for the majority of strategic decisions and accepted his advice to follow a Fabian strategy, avoiding engagement. The author also brings to light France’s continuing pressure on Spain to help. While she never recognized independence, Spain provided invaluable economic and military help in the Floridas and Caribbean.

The author makes a convincing case that, without France, the United States may never have gained independence.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08087-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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.



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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