Sure to touch off discussion, if not controversy, in professional circles; readers with a penchant for iconoclasm will want...

MR. LINCOLN GOES TO WAR

The Railsplitter as tyrant, warmonger and Machiavellian strategist.

Did Lincoln cause the Civil War? Historian Marvel (The Monitor Chronicles, 2000, etc.) says yes, but then adds a qualification or two. Certainly, he writes, Lincoln could have taken the advice of Cabinet members, newspaper editors and plenty of Northern voters by allowing the South to secede, in which case, Marvel ventures, slavery would have at least been a localized problem, likely to disappear in time. Lincoln, however, “eschewed diplomacy” and replied to the capture of Fort Sumter—which, Lincoln’s secret agents had already told him, was inevitably to fall to the South—by raising an army and threatening invasion. He had already hinted at such intentions in his inaugural speech, knowing that trouble was on the way; indeed, as Marvel writes, Sumter, which supposedly touched off the war, was but the latest of many federal installations that the secessionists had taken, to which then-President James Buchanan had responded by not doing anything. Any attempt to enforce federal law in the South, Lincoln’s advisors told him, “would precipitate war.” By Marvel’s account, Lincoln welcomed the prospect, for the Union needed a renewed forging of bonds and federal authority needed to be extended over states’ rights—an argument still played out in the Capitol today. In any event, Marvel argues, Lincoln willingly violated the Constitution to preserve the Union by, for one thing, suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and he came very close to establishing a dictatorship (of the Roman, not Nazi, variety). “Lincoln gradually arrogated so much authority to his office that his own dominant party dared not pass that power on to a member of the opposition,” Marvel notes, so that Republicans raced to strip away presidential powers when Democrat Andrew Johnson took office after Lincoln’s assassination.

Sure to touch off discussion, if not controversy, in professional circles; readers with a penchant for iconoclasm will want to have a look, too.

Pub Date: May 10, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-58349-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more