A significant addition to the literature on the Holocaust.

THE LOST CAFÉ SCHINDLER

ONE FAMILY, TWO WARS, AND THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH

A powerful account of the divergent fortunes of a prominent Austrian Jewish family.

In her impressively researched debut, attorney Schindler offers a sprawling, haunted narrative about a personal quest that was sparked by the passing of her father, long embittered by an “addiction to litigation in pursuit of what, he felt, he and the family were still owed because of the disruptions of war.” In the 19th century, the Schindlers, Tyrolean Jews, found success as distillers while riding out waves of antisemitism. Their civic-mindedness was epitomized by the author’s great uncle, who served in the Austro-Hungarian military during World War I. In the 1920s, the family opened a cafe that became central to the cultural life of Innsbruck. Things changed drastically in the 1930s, culminating in a vicious attack on Schindler’s grandfather during Kristallnacht in 1938 (which she discovered her father only pretended to have witnessed). After this, most family members fled to England or elsewhere, though several were murdered during the Holocaust. A local Nazi official took over the family villa, and the cafe was turned into “the most important Nazi watering hole in town.” Beyond the compelling personal details, the author chillingly documents how the livelihoods of Austrian Jews were destroyed, “systematically stripped of their assets, at bargain-basement prices.” Schindler brings the faded figures of her forebears to life via extensive archival research, but by returning to her misanthropic father’s presence, she also unearths fascinating digressions. His most outlandish claims proved accurate—e.g., regarding one uncle who received unlikely protection after providing medical care to a teenage Hitler’s mother. “Nothing accords with the father I knew—except for the troubling absence of truth,” writes the author. “But then again, these were such times of dislocation for millions, and of trading old identities for new ones in the post-war world.” Throughout, Schindler writes vividly about representation, memory, and the aftermath of atrocity.

A significant addition to the literature on the Holocaust.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-393-88162-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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