DARK SUN

THE MAKING OF THE HYDROGEN BOMB

Appearances to the contrary, this is not a remake of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Rhodes's very successful technical chronicle of the Manhattan Project. In that book, which was honored with a National Book Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award, and a Pulitzer Prize, Rhodes stuck closely to his topic. Here, it is not until halfway through the book, literally, that he begins to talk specifically about the hydrogen bomb. Up to then he mainly discusses Soviet atomic espionage and the early history of the Soviet atomic bomb program, a subject covered much more authoritatively and concisely in David Holloway's Stalin and the Bomb (1994). One has the impression that Rhodes just wants to show off what he has learned from the newly opened Soviet archives. Only well into the book does it become clear that what mainly interests him is the battle between J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller over the development of the hydrogen bomb and the direction national policy would take in the 1950s: Their battle for the soul of the American public was Oppenheimer's tragic undoing, stripped him of his security clearances, and removed him from US policy-making; Teller's semi- Pyrrhic victory left him a virtual pariah in the world of physics. Rhodes brings to that story sound judgment, a sharp eye for intrinsically fascinating detail, andnot leasta nice way with words. His down-to-earth manner also leads Rhodes to nose out little-remarked nuggets, telling us, for example, that the famous atomic spy Klaus Fuchs and mathematician John von Neumann filed a patent together for the H-bomb in 1946. This big book is not necessarily the best place to get the big picture. But who cares? Rhodes manages to fit in a wealth of interesting detail without worrying too much about how it all hangs together. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to the New Yorker; Book-of-the-Month Club/History Book Club alternate selections; author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80400-X

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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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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