by Valerie Hansen ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2020
A thoroughly satisfying history of a distant era and people.
If any reader still believes that the year 1000 marked the Dark Ages, this insightful history will set them right.
Though Hansen (Chinese and World History/Yale Univ.; The Silk Road: A New History With Documents, 2016, etc.) pays some attention to the politics, religion, and culture of the era, she focuses on commerce, making a convincing case that this date “marked the start of globalization…when trade routes took shape all around the world that allowed goods, technologies, religions, and people to leave home and go somewhere new.” For commerce to circle the globe, traders had to reach the New World, which happened around 1000, although no one knew it at the time. As befits that era’s greatest explorers, Hansen begins with the Norse, who, after centuries of raiding around Europe and the Mediterranean, sailed to Iceland, then Greenland, then North America, where later chroniclers and recent archaeological evidence (plus the usual fakes) indicated their arrival around 1000 and some trading but no permanent settlement. Less known but far more significant, the Norse also battled their way east. Known by the locals as “Rus,” by 1000, they had reached the Caspian Sea, adopted Christianity, and laid the foundation of Russia. Despite the nearly complete absence of writing, when Columbus reached America in 1492 and Islamic slave traders penetrated Africa well before 1000, they found complex cultures with well-established trade routes. Hansen then moves on to the flourishing, prosperous, technically advanced Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia, ending with superpower China, the center of a massive trading system stretching from the Indies to Arabia and Africa. The author covers a vast amount of territory in a concise, readable manner, making for a welcome contribution to the popular literature on early global trade and geopolitics.A thoroughly satisfying history of a distant era and people.
Pub Date: April 14, 2020
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020
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by Tom Clavin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2020
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
Page Count: 400
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020
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Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.
Jackie Kennedy's secret service agent Hill and co-author McCubbin team up for a follow-up to Mrs. Kennedy and Me (2012) in this well-illustrated narrative of those five days 50 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Since Hill was part of the secret service detail assigned to protect the president and his wife, his firsthand account of those days is unique. The chronological approach, beginning before the presidential party even left the nation's capital on Nov. 21, shows Kennedy promoting his “New Frontier” policy and how he was received by Texans in San Antonio, Houston and Fort Worth before his arrival in Dallas. A crowd of more than 8,000 greeted him in Houston, and thousands more waited until 11 p.m. to greet the president at his stop in Fort Worth. Photographs highlight the enthusiasm of those who came to the airports and the routes the motorcades followed on that first day. At the Houston Coliseum, Kennedy addressed the leaders who were building NASA for the planned moon landing he had initiated. Hostile ads and flyers circulated in Dallas, but the president and his wife stopped their motorcade to respond to schoolchildren who held up a banner asking the president to stop and shake their hands. Hill recounts how, after Lee Harvey Oswald fired his fatal shots, he jumped onto the back of the presidential limousine. He was present at Parkland Hospital, where the president was declared dead, and on the plane when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in. Hill also reports the funeral procession and the ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. “[Kennedy] would have not wanted his legacy, fifty years later, to be a debate about the details of his death,” writes the author. “Rather, he would want people to focus on the values and ideals in which he so passionately believed.”Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.
Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2013
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013
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