A thrilling narrative of bravery, bravado and loss.



An exciting, focused account of the bitter evacuation by helicopter of the last Marines securing the U.S. embassy compound in Saigon on April 30, 1975.

The Americans washed their bloody hands of the Vietnam War with the Paris Peace Accords of January 1973, which stipulated withdrawal from South Vietnam except for a handful of Marine Security Guards (MSGs) and other personnel posted at the embassy and at a defense outpost (DOA) adjacent to the airport in downtown Saigon. The North Vietnamese Army broke the treaty by late 1974 and invaded its southern neighbor, and the Americans at the provincial Da Nang consulate in central Vietnam had already been forced into a horrifically chaotic evacuation by sea. Encircled by the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong by April 29, 1975, Saigon was braced for an invasion, with the North Vietnamese’s Gen. Van Tien Dung calling for evacuation of all Americans. The airport, guarded still by U.S. Marines, had been operating nonstop during the preceding weeks to remove tens of thousands of high-risk South Vietnamese, civilian contractors as well as refugees and war brides, but there were still guards at the DOA and numerous personnel at the embassy. As if to prod the Americans not to try anything sneaky, the North Vietnamese shelled the DOA, then the airport, sending up the VC flag, and the only option for evacuation of the Americans was by helicopter. Drury and Clavin (The Last Stand of Fox Company, 2009, etc.) ably narrate this suspenseful saga, full of conflicting personalities including Sgt. Juan Valdez, who was in charge of the MSGs; and the intractable Ambassador Graham Martin, immovable and holding out for peace talks until ordered by presidential request to get out. The authors also skillfully wade through the staggering details of the 600 chopper runs over an 18-hour period.

A thrilling narrative of bravery, bravado and loss.

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-6101-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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