A readable though ancillary work of frontier history.



Novelist Pearl turns to history in this study of Daniel Boone and the settlement of Kentucky.

The moment that fuels the narrative is largely a footnote in the larger history of the Revolutionary War: Shawnee and Cherokee warriors captured Boone’s daughter Jemima, along with two other girls, and took them to the British stronghold of Fort Detroit. Boone and a few hardy frontiersmen tracked them, rescued the girls, and killed a couple of their kidnappers. “The drive to protect and avenge family would not end with Jemima and Daniel Boone: An Indian killed in the rescue, reports suggested, was the son of War Chief Blackfish, one of the…most feared leaders and strategists,” writes Pearl, who zooms out to look at this well-known episode in the context of the ensuing war on the frontier. That context is as a peripheral theater of operations in which British forces, having driven the French from the western frontier, were busily engaged in recruiting Native peoples to go to war against settlers like Boone. As Pearl makes clear, in a sense it doesn’t matter which side the Natives cast their lot with. They would have lost political power and, in time, their lands to the voracious appetites of the Euro-Americans, even though one thoughtful Native commander concocted an interesting scheme by which captured settlers could be repurposed as citizens of those Indigenous nations, which would “turn the frontier into an integrated, shared space.” It would not come to pass. Though Bob Drury and Tom Clavin’s Blood and Treasure covers this ground better, Pearl spins an entertaining story. The capable, resourceful Jemima, occasionally forgotten in the narrative, turns up at just the right moments, plot points if this were a novel. Memorably, she was there to hold her father’s hand as he died at the improbably old age of 85.

A readable though ancillary work of frontier history.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-293778-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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