A fresh perspective on history.



Imagining the world as it might have been.

Veteran speechwriter Nussbaum highlights the contingencies of history by examining crucial speeches that, because of a change of events or a speaker’s change of mind, never were given. “Each of these speeches,” he writes, “provides a window into the fraught moments in which it was penned.” Besides offering key excerpts, and in some cases the entire speech, the author provides historical and biographical context, close readings for language and style, and speculations about how the speech might have altered the course of subsequent events. Among the undelivered speeches he identifies are John Lewis’ proposed remarks at the March on Washington, D.C., in 1963; Native American leader Wamsutta Frank James’ speech at the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth Rock; Helen Keller’s brief remarks at a suffrage parade in 1913, undelivered because of mob rioting; “the speech President Nixon was prepared to make refusing to resign in 1974”; Edward VIII’s equivocation about abdicating in 1939; Dwight Eisenhower’s apology in case of the failure of D-Day; Emperor Hirohito’s “shame-ridden apology for his role in starting World War II”; Condoleezza Rice’s foreign policy speech, planned for Sept. 11, 2001; and Hillary Clinton’s victory speech in 2016. Some of these texts, unearthed by Nussbaum, currently Joe Biden’s senior speechwriter, had been filed away for decades. Edward’s words, for example were rediscovered after nearly 70 years in documents released by the British Public Record Office in 2003. His plan—quashed by his ministers—“was to say that he wished to marry Mrs. Simpson, but neither of them would insist that she be queen. He would then go away to a foreign country while people made up their minds. If he were called back, he would resume his reign with Mrs. Simpson as his consort. If he weren’t, he would abdicate.” Nussbaum speculates that if Edward—sympathetic to Germany—had continued as king, the course of the war would have been dramatically different.

A fresh perspective on history.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24070-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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