For military buffs, a blood-soaked war story about a courageous horse.



More than six decades ago, American Marines fought to hold a hill in Korea. They had significant help from a singular horse.

Clavin (The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream, 2013, etc.) graphically details war on an individual level. Within the relentless account of the bravery of many men, the featured character is a Mongolian racehorse, recruited to carry the heavy ammunition for a recoilless rifle platoon. Named “Reckless,” like the troop’s appellation for their primary weapon, the horse was bought from its Korean owner by the platoon’s lieutenant. The pretty little filly with the white blaze and three white socks appeared to have, according to Clavin, human attributes beyond a fondness for beer. “Iron willed,” she “never shirked or complained” though she seemed to have “a sense of entitlement” as well as a “sense of humor.” Reckless certainly possessed fortitude; what she did one day in 1953 was remarkable. Under heavy enemy fire, she made countless trips up steep terrain carrying heavy shells to supply her platoon. On the way back, she often carried the wounded to safety. It was estimated that she carried more than four tons of ammunition in trips covering more than 30 miles, mostly alone, without guidance or prompting. The fame of the stalwart horse, who gave added resonance to the idea of Semper Fi, grew both within the Corps and among the folks at home. Reckless made sergeant and received several decorations. Despite his research, Clavin’s dramatic tale of the leatherneck steed doesn’t necessarily eschew imaginative elaboration, particularly in regard to her back story. “Readers should keep in mind,” he warns in an endnote, “that what makes for a heck of a story can be highly speculative.”

For military buffs, a blood-soaked war story about a courageous horse.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-451-46650-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: NAL Caliber/Berkley

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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