Effectively shows how the relative liberalism of the Roaring ’20s collided with a lingering Victorian moral code.



In this debut nonfiction work, Stewart investigates the circumstances surrounding the murder of a 20-year-old dancer in Jazz Age Southern California.

Frieda “Fritzie” Mann didn’t get to experience much of the Roaring ’20s. In January 1923, the 20-year-old dancer was found dead on Torrey Pines State Beach a few miles north of San Diego. The case isn’t as well known as other contemporaneous Hollywood-connected scandals, like silent film star’s Fatty Arbuckle’s arrest. Stewart uses trial transcripts, newspaper articles, and other primary sources to bring Mann—and the rapidly changing times in which she lived—alive in a fast-paced, thoughtful true-crime work that contextualizes the dancer’s demise within the sociocultural climate of Prohibition-era America. “The story of Fritzie’s tragic death was much more than an intriguing Jazz Age murder mystery; in many ways, it defined one of the most fascinating eras in U.S. history,” he writes. At the time, Stewart reports, San Diego was “a backwater and Fritzie Mann wasn’t famous,” but in an age of yellow journalism that would make today’s tabloids blanch, the media pounced on the case. Mann was the “right kind of victim, not just a young white woman, but a beautiful exotic dancer washed up dead in her teddies, who cavorted with Hollywood players and enjoyed assignations at beach cottages and got pregnant out of wedlock.” Louis Jacobs, a physician in the U.S. Public Health Service who had been dating Mann, was charged with the murder. He was acquitted after a trial in which the prosecution theorized that he killed Mann while attempting to perform an abortion on her in a beachside cottage. Stewart ably depicts how the case reflects “the status of women in a changing—and unchanging—society” in which, “despite the apparent wave of liberalism and sexual freedom, the Victorian era moral code and associated laws lingered.” Those laws included an almost complete ban on abortions, driving women to extremes to terminate their pregnancies. As America lurches toward overturning Roe v. Wade, Fritzie Mann’s death carries a haunting resonance.

Effectively shows how the relative liberalism of the Roaring ’20s collided with a lingering Victorian moral code.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952225-78-9

Page Count: 302

Publisher: WildBlue Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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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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