A simultaneously propulsive and nuanced account that hums on the page.

HANNIBAL

ROME'S GREATEST ENEMY

A thorough, largely sympathetic account of the career of one of the ancient world’s most indelible and complex figures.

Freeman, the chair in humanities at Pepperdine whose more than 20 books include biographies of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, vividly, almost cinematically, brings to life the career of Hannibal Barca, the great but ill-fated Carthaginian general whose tactical and strategic brilliance is still studied today. The author draws from both of the two most important sources of information on his subject’s life (and legend), but he favors the more balanced, detailed account of Polybius over that of Livy, the Roman historian most hostile to the African leader. Freeman also gives full credit to the recent work of scholars who have helped illuminate Hannibal’s character and legacy as well as the world in which he lived. Despite the Roman chroniclers who demonized him, tradition holds that Hannibal, though capable of wholesale slaughter, was, by the standards of the day, generous in battle and humane in his treatment of his men and war animals, with an extraordinary gift for eliciting loyalty. In defeat, having turned his energies to rebuilding Carthage’s economy, he proved an able administrator. “Even the Romans, in their fear and hatred of Hannibal, could not help but admire his determination, brilliance, and ultimately his humanity. We should do nothing less,” writes the author, though he refrains from romanticizing his subject. In a fascinating speculation on what might have happened had Hannibal defeated Rome, Freeman also disputes many modern scholars’ belief that history unfolds solely from economic and cultural forces, insisting that “certain individuals at certain moments in time can change everything with a single decision.” And Hannibal profoundly changed Rome. The author gives Hannibal’s remarkable campaigns much credit for compelling Rome to alter its societal construction, becoming an empire that, for better or worse, would change the world.

A simultaneously propulsive and nuanced account that hums on the page.

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64313-871-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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...

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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