A worthwhile work of Holocaust remembrance, but readers must be prepared to journey with the son as well as the father.

SHMUEL'S BRIDGE

FOLLOWING THE TRACKS TO AUSCHWITZ WITH MY SURVIVOR FATHER

A father-son journey through the land and memories of the Holocaust.

Sommer, the author of five poetry collections, recounts a 2001 visit to Eastern Europe with his Hungarian father, Jay, a Holocaust survivor. Raised in poverty, Jay was sent to a forced labor camp as the Nazis overtook his homeland. Eventually, he was able to escape the camp, evading capture until he joined a Soviet army unit toward the end of the war. The author arranged a trip following the rail lines that figured heavily in his father’s history as well as those of other family members who did not survive. Of special interest to Sommer was the search for a bridge where his uncle, Shmuel, had escaped the train to Auschwitz only to be killed by guards. The author provides an undeniably intriguing tale of travel and remembrance, filled with fascinating characters and places caught between the war-torn past and the post–Cold War future. However, the primary narrative focus is on the strained and highly unusual relationship between the author, who was raised during a time of relative peace and prosperity, and his father, aptly described as “an omnivore of terror” who “suffered the most thorough dissolutions of social order” and "had law and border shift around him, restricting his life, collecting him for forced labor, while narrowly avoiding what he feared most, the fate of almost all his family.” In exploring the purpose for his journey and this book, Sommer writes, “I would have liked my writing to have cleared a path between my father and me, so we could have had a fuller knowledge of each other.” Writing the book was obviously an act of catharsis for the author, who often brings up his own search for truth, connection, or some other personal need he feels but cannot easily put into words.

A worthwhile work of Holocaust remembrance, but readers must be prepared to journey with the son as well as the father.

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-62354-512-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Imagine Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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