Heart-rending documents of Anne Frank’s family, both before and after the devastating events of the war.

As the German translator of the unexpurgated edition of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, Pressler brings to this family memoir tremendous care, knowledge and dignity. The task of tracing the life of Anne’s father, Otto Frank, and his mother, Alice Frank, shattered by the Nazi war machine and virulent anti-Semitism, was given to Pressler by Gerti Elias, the wife of Otto Frank’s nephew; Gerti became the caretaker of her in-laws old home in Basel, Switzerland, where some of the family had moved in 1933 from Frankfurt, when life under the new Nazi regime became too onerous. While Otto moved from Frankfurt with his young family to try to restart his business in Amsterdam, his mother resettled in Basel, and in the attic of her house, a treasure of letters and photographs had been stored for years. Among them, incredibly, are the first missives from Otto to his mother in 1945 on stationery from the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he had miraculously survived after being separated from his wife and two daughters, Margot and Anne, in September 1944, and still knew nothing of their fate. Subsequent letters reveal the crushing news that Edith had died from illness in January, and the girls in March at Bergen-Belsen. Pressler focuses on the pre-war life of Alice Frank, whose family had prospered amid the ghettos of Frankfurt. The author also pursues the career of Alice’s grandson, Buddy (once playmate of Anne Frank), who enjoyed—in a terrible parallel irony—a successful stage and ice-skating career all while the war was destroying the lives of his family.


Pub Date: April 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53339-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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