The Spanish-American War was the quintessential journalists’ adventure. Craig beats his professional predecessors with his...

YANKEE COME HOME

ON THE ROAD FROM SAN JUAN HILL TO GUANTÁNAMO

With a half-century of U.S. antagonism to Cuba’s revolution as the back story, a freelancer visits the island nation to report on both its history and current situation. 

Craig (Liberal Arts/River Valley Community Coll.) accompanied a touring chorus to gain access to the beleaguered communist outpost. Abandoned by the group’s guide, he made his own way, curious to see where his great-grandfather may have fought. Starting with Santiago de Cuba, where Theodore Roosevelt famously charged up San Juan Hill, Craig recalls the bellicose Roosevelt, cautious McKinley and the American takeover of the Cuban rebellion against Spanish rule. The author’s lively history follows locale, not chronology, and he analyzes sugar politics, empire building and the blood-spattered history of slaves, Indians and Spaniards in the New World. The author doesn’t cover the story of the sinking of the USS Maine, the ostensible casus belli for the Spanish-American War, until more than halfway through the text. We also learn about Cuban culture, including music, spirits, the real Ché Guevara, pickpockets, drinking habits and much more. Craig’s sprightly account ends back east with a surreal encounter with the local authorities in the town of Guantánamo as he tries to gain a view of the ominous American base.

The Spanish-American War was the quintessential journalists’ adventure. Craig beats his professional predecessors with his skilled and accessible personal journal and blunt history.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1093-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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