A scathing look at the human costs of war.



A bell-clear, powerful indictment of the debacle of recent Middle Eastern war policy.

Since 9/11, Los Angeles Times Moscow bureau chief Stack has been covering the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and her account illustrates the senseless destruction and carnage wrought in the region by the United States and Israel. The author spoke with a diverse range of people involved, including Afghani warlords waiting on American guns in order to fight the Taliban, and probably allowing al-Qaeda fighters to escape into Pakistan for a fee; terrorist victims in Megiddo, Israel; Iraqi refugees from the American invasion; the pampered community of Americans at the Saudi Aramco compound; a Yemeni high-court judge espousing his methods of “theological redemption”; angry young demonstrators in Beirut in the aftermath of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri’s assassination; and Egypt’s pious Muslim Brotherhood, who attempted to proceed with elections in spite of the Mubarak government’s “dirty tricks.” “Somewhere between Afghanistan and Iraq,” writes Stack bitterly, “we lost our way.” What she saw in her travels clearly indicates that America—the idea of America—was held up as a model. But after the bombings, invasions and Abu Ghraib, America has deeply disappointed the people in these devastated regions. Stack’s writing is visceral and intensely personal, as many of the people she knew and interviewed were killed—maybe even because she “took a chance with their lives” by being seen talking with them. “Countries, like people,” she writes movingly, “have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are.” Despite the war to bring democracy to the region, Stack observes, very little has changed, except a hardening, an acceptance of the seemingly endless condition of war.

A scathing look at the human costs of war.

Pub Date: June 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-52716-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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

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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. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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