ON WINGS OF EAGLES

Based on interviews with nearly everyone involved (except the Iranians): a competent, not-too-novelized reconstruction of Texas entrepreneur Ross Perot's efforts to engineer the rescue of two unfairly jailed executives in Tehran. . . just as the Shah's regime was collapsing in 1979. Perot's company is ESD, a Dallas-based computer-tech firm—hired by Iran to organize its new social-security system. Circa December 1978, however, the Iranian government had gotten millions behind in its bills. Was it just coincidence, then, that the two top ESD execs in Tehran were arrested, with bail put at a ludicrous $13 million? Perot, back in Texas, expected the execs to be released after a little pressure; but not even Secretary Kissinger could get a response. (And the State Dept. refused to treat the case as kidnapping.) So Perot, "whose role in life was to rescue others," started planning a private (illegal) jailbreak mission—headed by ex-Colonel Bull Simons (who headed a Perot-funded Vietnam-POW rescue try), staffed by ESD exec/volunteers with G.I. backgrounds. ("Perot was just so proud of them.") They planned, rehearsed, trained meticulously. Unfortunately, however, they got to Tehran just in time to see the ESD prisoners moved to a different prison, this one an "impregnable fortress." Though the Shah's regime was crumbling, the demonic official behind the ESD jailing remained firm; bail negotiations continued, fruitlessly. But, eventually, as anti-Shah riots spread, it became clear that a mob would soon storm the prison—so, in the book's least credible chapter, an Iranian ESD-trainee named Rashid impetuously triggers the storming of the jail ("Rashid had become a revolutionary leader. Nothing was impossible"). The execs escape, manage to join the ESD forces at an American hotel. And, after this rather anti-climactic turning-point, the book moves into its only really suspenseful chapters: the journey of the ESD team, guided by Rashid, through Revolution-torn Iran towards the Turkish border: and only after further hassles in Turkey and Germany do all the ESD people finally get. . . home free. Clearly determined to glorify Perot & Co., Follett doesn't go in for much textured characterization. Especially when it comes to the exploits of Rashid (who escaped with the Americans), he may have fallen for a tall-tale or two. And his prose, increasingly sloppy in recent novels, is at best rudimentary here. Still, for readers partial to macho sentiment, gung-ho theatrics, and can-do philosophy, this is solidly diverting action-entertainment—with the byline (if not the shapely melodrama) of a proven best-seller.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1983

ISBN: 0451213092

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1983

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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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