A rousing tale of a species’ survival.

THE BALD EAGLE

THE IMPROBABLE JOURNEY OF AMERICA'S BIRD

A majestic history of the bald eagle and how it has reflected the nation’s changing relationship to nature.

Davis, whose 2017 book The Gulf won the Kirkus Prize and the Pulitzer Prize, creates an equally sweeping cultural and natural history centered on the majestic bald eagle, a bird endemic only to North America. Regarded as the king of the avian species, symbolizing “fidelity, self-reliance, strength, and courage,” in 1782, the bald eagle was chosen to be emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States. Debate over the image was, unsurprisingly, vigorous; Benjamin Franklin, it was rumored, proposed a turkey. The eagle prevailed, however, representing “the picture of the nation’s full-fledged independence and sovereignty.” As much as the image inspired patriotic pride, some people—farmers who accused them of preying on livestock and even John James Audubon, who called the bird “ferocious” and “overbearing”—derided them. Farmers killed them, and so did early naturalists. Lacking cameras and binoculars, felling eagles was the only way to investigate them closely. Eagles, Davis writes, were “sentenced to death by the ornithology of the day.” By the late 19th century, however, attitudes about humans’ responsibility to nature began to change. Although in “a land of plenty” there seemed no need for conservation movements, the threat of bald eagles’ extinction ignited efforts to save the species. By 1900, 22 states had Audubon societies, and some states outlawed the hunting of eagles. Examination of their migration patterns, courtship, breeding, and communication revealed that eagles displayed “fidelity to both spouse and home,” were caring parents, and had no interest in carrying off human babies—once a widespread fear. In the 1950s, however, the potent pesticide DDT emerged as a devastating threat, causing nest failures: eggs not being laid and laid ones failing to hatch. The author’s consistently lively, captivating narrative celebrates the naturalists, scientists, activists, artists (Andy Warhol, among them), politicians, and breeders who have championed the extraordinary “charismatic raptor.”

A rousing tale of a species’ survival.

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63149-525-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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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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