A tremendous book of which the digests made for Life and the necessarily cut excerpts in the New York Times gave no conception. For Winston Churchill shows himself as historian, biographer, dramatist, journalist; important as is the substance of what he records of the years leading up to war, more important for the reader is the color and vigor and originality and fearlessness of his manner of recording. Churchill, the man, comes through- as he does in his broadcasting — as he does on the platform- as he does in his printed speeches — but as he failed to do (for this reader at least) in the slashed copy which ran serially. He makes the years of so-called peace pregnant with meaning (and with frightening parallels today). He shows with almost rhythmic precision the points at which World War II might have been prevented. He proves that democracy unless welded into larger organizations lacks security. He brings constant evidence to indicate the dangers in the counsels of prudence. Britain and France consistently lost ground while Germany rearmed. British "fatuity and fecklessness" made the Manchurian incident, Abyssinia, the occupation of the Rhineland, the results of the Saar plebescite, the betrayal at Munich possible. And yet Churchill avoids direct attack on Chamberlain, simply saying that the fundamental bases of the differences lay between "sweet reasonableness and the mailed fist". By the time Britain was awake to inevitability of war, Germany was in her fourth year of preparation, Britain her first. It was a sad tale of wrong judgments by well-meaning people. Further errors of judgment are indicated in the disdaining of the Russian offer of collaboration, in turning aside Roosevelt's desire for an intergovernmental conference — until it was too late, and the march of time brought the fall of Austria, Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium. During the "twilight war" period, after Poland, Churchill again played a part, and records his service as Lord of the Admiralty, his plans- stymied by delay until too late. Vivid pen portraits throughout add immeasurably to the whole.

Pub Date: June 21, 1948

ISBN: 039541055X

Page Count: 756

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1948


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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



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

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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