PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksBoessenecker cuts through years of debate about who the good guys were in the Tombstone wars with fact ... The big clash came on October 26, 1881, when the Earps and Doc Holliday, fed up with Cowboy threats, went to disarm them at an empty lot near the O.K. Corral. The ensuing fight left all the participants except Wyatt wounded and three of the Cowboys dead. Boessenecker’s account of what happened at the gunfight and its legal aftermath are models of lucidity ... Boessenecker doesn’t give Wyatt a free pass for his vigilante actions, but like most of us who try to project ourselves back into the time of Earp, he also doesn’t condemn him for passing sentence on killers who would otherwise have gone unpunished. Ride the Devil’s Herd presents the evidence, and invites the readers to make their own judgment. I do wish that Boessenecker had not chosen to use Earp/Cowboy conflicts as an object lesson for 21st-century law enforcement issue ... But this ill-advised foray into contemporary politics aside, Ride the Devil’s Herd is a rich and satisfying read, a significant contribution to Earpiana, an antidote to Clavin’s fanciful stew, and a book that unclouds the picture and shows us why these men became legends.
PanLos Angeles Review of BooksAs history, Clavin’s Tombstone is lightweight. Unattributed dialogue makes it read like a novel, and not in a good way. It lacks an authoritative voice; on most key incidents Clavin offers no opinion but defers to other historians such as Earp biographer Casey Tefertiller and Holliday biographer Gary Roberts. Dubious claims are left unsourced, making it impossible to sift fact from fiction ... The sourcing information offered in some of the footnotes is bafflingly sloppy ... Clavin pulls off an amazing feat: he inflates the already hyped-up Earp saga with even more hyperbole ... This book does a major disservice by muddying some historical waters that took decades to clean up.
RaveNational Book Review... a feast for the intellectually horny ... Wood seems to have read everything and reread most of that ... Wood’s best essays culminate in starbursts of illumination ... In a much-deserved takedown of Paul Auster, Wood shows flashes of the savagery ... Wood excels at synthesizing a writer’s oeuvre and offering fresh insights ... Wood is weakest when in trying to make The Big Judgment, forcing too much out of a critique ... James Wood’s voice is that of your favorite English professor, the one who got you hooked on Woolf and Joyce and the Russians.
RaveThe National Book Review... a feast for the intellectually horny ... Wood seems to have read everything and reread most of that ... Wood’s best essays culminate in starbursts of illumination ... In a much-deserved takedown of Paul Auster, Wood shows flashes of the savagery ... Wood excels at synthesizing a writer’s oeuvre and offering fresh insights ... Wood is weakest when in trying to make The Big Judgment, forcing too much out of a critique ... James Wood’s voice is that of your favorite English professor, the one who got you hooked on Woolf and Joyce and the Russians.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Eds. Cathy W. Barks and Jackson R. Bryer
PositiveThe National Book ReviewConsidering that each new decade supplies enough material on the Fitzgeralds to fill a library shelf, the letters included in Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda offer fresh insights on the most celebrated American literary marriage ... At times, Zelda stuns us with a lucid acceptance of her illness ... Partly because many of Scott’s letters weren’t preserved, Zelda’s personality seems more pervasive. This collection highlights her intelligence better than any biography.
PositiveThe National Book ReviewThe association of Hemon with Nabokov...is misleading; given Hemon’s roughhewn prose and late blooming affair with the English language, he has more in common with Joseph Conrad...who, like Hemon, brought a decidedly non-English sensibility to the literature of his adopted country ... My Parents: An Introduction and This Does Not Belong to You provide the context to Hemon’s remarkable body of work ... Hemon’s books are as laced with American (and British) pop culture references as a Murakami novel: Raymond Chandler, Sonic Youth, Miles Davis, Sinatra ... When you finish reading My Parents, you can flip the book upside down, literally, for Hemon’s childhood memoirs. If the Nabokov-Hemon comparison is legitimate (and I promise not to bring it up again), This Does Not Belong to You would be Hemon’s version of Nabokov’s great autobiography, Speak, Memory...Hemon’s memoir is so much more than random recollection. It’s an essay on the nature of memory itself.
PositiveThe National Book ReviewEdmund White’s [voice] is that of your gay cousin who dazzles you with enthusiasm for everything he has read (and reread) ... White’s selections in The Unpunished Vice make you feel as if you’re dropping by booths at a literary world’s fair. He is passionate about the genius of Stendhal—a subject on which I would like to sit him down at a table with James Wood.
PositiveSalonThe Secret Scripture reads, at times, like a play utilizing the familiar device of patient and psychiatrist, and one wonders if Barry didn’t first consider the material as a drama. The novel, perhaps a tad more complex than it needs to be, is composed of three contrapuntal parts: Roseanne’s memories, Dr. Grene’s observations, and their conversations … The subjective nature of memory and how it shapes our perception of the past are two of Barry’s major themes … Sebastian Barry’s achievement is unlike that of any other modern Western writer, a tapestry of interrelated works in different mediums woven from strands of his past and that of his country. The Secret Scripture fits seamlessly into a vision that seeks to restore with language that which has been taken away by history.
Larrie D. Ferreiro
RaveThe Dallas Morning News...[a] remarkable history ... Brothers at Arms is one of the most important books on the American Revolution published in this decade. Ferreiro will have you thinking about aspects of the Revolution that you may never have considered before.
Paul Andrew Hutton
RaveThe Chicago TribuneThe Apache Wars is a major work of history on a much-neglected subject ... Hutton, a Western historian and documentarian familiar to viewers of the History Channel, has put flesh and blood on a people known only as savages while giving us the true story, previously relegated to the vagaries of Hollywood. The Apache Wars is an epic tale filled with Homeric scenes and unforgettable characters. It's a quintessential American story that too few Americans know.
Annette Gordon Reed and Peter S. Onuf
MixedThe Dallas Morning NewsGordon-Reed and Onuf don’t succeed in reconciling the contradictory facets of a slaveholder who wrote the Declaration of Independence, but they often illuminate them ... Most Blessed of the Patriarchs works best when the authors stick to the details of Jefferson’s home life at Monticello ... When the narrative expands to larger issues, the result is more problematic.
John Mack Faragher
RaveThe Chicago TribuneJohn Mack Faragher is one of the great living American historians, and his area of expertise is the American frontier. His 1992 biography, Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, is a modern classic, and Eternity Street is destined to become one.
Randy Roberts & Johnny Smith
RaveThe Boston Globe“Blood Brothers is a unique hybrid of race, politics, and sports; it is easy to read yet gives rise to sober reflection. It fills a gap in our understanding of one of the most fascinating relationships in American history.
RaveThe Dallas Morning NewsWith Ardennes 1944, Beevor gives us a concise and powerful narrative of the biggest, bloodiest and most desperate battle of the war in Western Europe, as well as the ultimate account of American soldiers in their most trying time...One reason Beevor is such a great historian is his ability to convey a vision of the epic without losing touch with the individual stories that bring war home to the average reader.
PositiveThe Dallas Morning NewsIf Custer’s Trials does not quite stand with Stiles’ earlier books, it’s because of his subject’s limitations...even the best books about Custer seem a bit thin. Custer’s Trials is one of the most rare of historical biographies: The book is superior to its subject.