A thoughtful, engaging, and useful addition to the shelf of recent revisionist works on the American West. (8 pages photos)



            A vigorous narrative of the intersecting lives of two of the most outsized figures in the American West:  the trapper, guide, and Indian fighter Kit Carson, and the ebullient, grandstanding officer John Frémont.

            Roberts (Once They Moved Like the Wind:  Cochise, Geronimo, and the Apache Wars, 1993, etc.) has focused on four revealing events in the lives of these two figures:  the 1842 Frémont expedition, which reached as far as Wyoming; the conquest of California in 1845-46, which often verged on slapstick; a disastrous surveying expedition led by Frémont in 1848 during which almost a third of his men died; and Carson’s 1863 campaign to round up and relocate the Mescalero Apache and the Navajo.  Largely unknown before Frémont hired him to guide his 1842 expedition, the taciturn Carson was already an extraordinary outdoorsman, having spent more than a decade wandering thousands of square miles of the still largely unknown West.  Though the mountain man was modest about his remarkable travels, and Frémont was a dashing self-promoter, they were both tough, courageous figures.  Carson served with Frémont on three expeditions, mapping an astonishing amount of Western territory under conditions of often extreme hardship.  Their collaboration concluded with Frémont’s ill-planned, ramshackle, yet ultimately successful attempt to expel Mexican forces from California.  His improbable triumph propelled Frémont into a long, bumpy political career.  Carson, looking back on his role in the defeat and confinement of the Apache and Navajo on a destitute reservation, where many died of disease or starvation, became an unlikely spokesman for Indian rights.  Roberts, who has researched these events with exemplary thoroughness, writes with vigor and clarity, and makes a careful argument for viewing these men, and the events he chronicles, as emblematic of the exploration and settling of the West.

            A thoughtful, engaging, and useful addition to the shelf of recent revisionist works on the American West.  (8 pages photos)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-83482-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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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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