HIS FATHER'S SON

THE LIFE OF RANDOLPH CHURCHILL

A "filial and objective" biography of Winston S. Churchill's only son, Randolph, by Randolph's son. Randolph Churchill, named for a grandfather who was an important parliamentary leader in the 1880s, was born to Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, in London in 1911. Winston Churchill, who had been a soldier and a successful journalist, was already immersed in his brilliant political career at the time of Randolph's birth, and the early pages of this biography are a narrative of Winston Churchill's career as home secretary and first lord of the admiralty, including the catastrophic failure of the Gallipoli campaign, with which Winston, became identified, a tragedy that became indelibly imprinted on the small boy's memory. Randolph grew up in an atmosphere dominated by the powerful intellect and forceful personality of his father. Winston, for his part, tried his best to be the loving parent to Randolph that his own father had never been to him. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Randolph was, like his father, an indifferent student with evident gifts, but unlike Winston he developed habits of indolence and a quarrelsome, arrogant streak that marked his adult personality. Eventually he followed his father into politics and journalism; he had great success with the latter in the 1930s, but less with the former, failing three times as a Conservative candidate to achieve election to Parliament, but finally becoming MP from Preston as WW II neared. Having married Pamela Digby (later to be Mrs. Averell Harriman), he served in the war with the Desert Army and in the Balkans. After the war, he wrote numerous books, including two volumes of a well-regarded biography of his father. He died in 1968. Randolph's career is a historical footnote, but the author's close examination of his father's complex relationship with Winston Churchill, augmented with excerpts from their voluminous correspondence, make this a valuable contribution to Churchill scholarship.

Pub Date: June 15, 1997

ISBN: 0-297-81640-3

Page Count: 514

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

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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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