A veteran paperback author debuts in hardcover with this more- than-promising first in a series on the African-American experience in the US military. Here, Willard tracks the long and eventful life of Augustus Sharps, who rose through the ranks of the Tenth Cavalry during the later half of the 19th century. Saved by black troopers from death in a Great Plains stampede and indentured servitude at the hands of a white hunter who had bought him from his erstwhile captors, the Kiowa, Augustus signs on with the Army as a teenager in 1869. He and his fellow buffalo soldiers (so called by the Cheyenne for their wiry hair) played an important role in America's drive to fulfill its ``manifest destiny.'' Assigned to remote hardship posts on the westering frontier, they protected settlers against marauding whites (known as comancheros) and Indians vainly attempting to defend themselves and their way of life from extinction. Along his upwardly mobile way, Augustus (a crack shot with the long rifle from which he took his surname) survives frequent clashes with red men on battlefields from Kansas to New Mexico, earns a sergeant major's stripes, endures the opprobrium of homesteaders not overly fond of black troops, and marries a good woman who was scalped by renegade Texas Rangers. Augustus also meets the legendary likes of Wild Bill Hickok and George Armstrong Custer. Toward the close of his career, Augustus is in the vanguard of Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill; then, after retirement, he tours with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. On the eve of the US entry into WW I, the old soldier sees one of his two sons off to OCS in possession of the battered sword with which he campaigned so honorably for nearly four decades. An ever involving, painstakingly researched narrative that, among other great themes, documents the force-of-arms efforts of one oppressed race to subjugate another.

Pub Date: June 6, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-86041-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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