Horwitz's reflective odyssey uncovers a profoundly disaffected nation, where battles over the Confederate flag, virulent...

CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC

DISPATCHES FROM THE UNFINISHED CIVIL WAR

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Horwitz (Baghdad Without a Map, 1991, etc.) takes an eye-opening turn in the South, where his childhood obsession with the Confederacy collides with hard adult realities about race and culture in America.

Growing up in Virginia, Horwitz painted rebel heroes on the walls of his attic bedroom. Returning home after a decade spent covering foreign wars, he launches a year-long ramble through the landscape of the Civil War, traveling from Virginia to Alabama in search of explanations for his (and America's) continuing interest in the conflict. Horwitz accompanies a hard-core re-enactor obsessed with authenticity (and whose gruesome specialty—"bloating'' in imitation of a corpse—puts him in demand with artists and filmmakers) on "the Civil Wargasm,'' a whirlwind seven-day tour of battlegrounds. He visits Shelby Foote and lesser known historians like Jimmy Olgers, an eccentric storekeeper whose folk museum sports a life-size statue of Robert E. Lee made from sheetrock. Trading notes with park rangers, Horwitz discovers that much of what he knows is more myth than fact and that historical misrepresentation at federally maintained battlefields is frequently abetted by local boosterism. Nowhere is the tension between past and present more raw and divisive than in Richmond, where proposals to honor Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue, the city's cavalcade of Confederate heroes, spur protests from whites and blacks alike. It's remarkable how much strong emotion the war still evokes (especially in the local taverns and gunshops Horwitz wisely seeks out) and how stubbornly it divides the country along racial lines—a division summed up bluntly by a redneck T-shirt that challenges blacks with a rebel battle flag over the caption, "You wear your X, I'll wear mine.''

Horwitz's reflective odyssey uncovers a profoundly disaffected nation, where battles over the Confederate flag, virulent antigovernment sentiment, and enduring ignorance and bigotry invite some dispiriting conclusions about the prospects for black/white rapprochement.

Pub Date: March 18, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-43978-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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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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