Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND

A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories.

BOY FROM BUCHENWALD

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

Following his liberation from the Buchenwald death camp, Romek didn’t know how to reclaim his humanity.

Romek’s childhood in his Polish shtetl of Skarżysko-Kamienna, where he was the youngest of six loving siblings, wasn’t wealthy, but it was idyllic. Skarżysko-Kamienna was “forests and birdsong,” with “the night sky stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.” His family was destroyed and their way of life obliterated with the Nazi invasion of Poland, and Romek lost not just memories, but the accompanying love. Unlike many Holocaust memoirs, this painfully lovely story begins in earnest after the liberation, when Romek was among 1,000 Jewish orphans, the Buchenwald Boys, in need of rehabilitation. Having suffered years of starvation, disease, and being treated as animals, the boys were nearly feral: They fought constantly, had forgotten how to use forks, and set fire to their French relief camp dormitory. Some adults thought they were irredeemable. With endless patience, care, and love, the mentors and social workers around them—themselves traumatized Holocaust survivors—brought Romek back from the brink. Even in a loving and protective environment, in a France where the boys were treated overwhelmingly kindly by the populace, it took time to remember goodness. Parallels between anti-Semitism and racism in the U.S. and Canada are gentle but explicit.

Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories. (historical note, timeline) (Memoir. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0600-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled.

RUNNING DRY

THE GLOBAL WATER CRISIS

In urgent tones, a call for action as climate change and continuing waste and pollution of available fresh water pose imminent threats to human health and agriculture.

Drawing from recently published reports and news stories, Kallen paints an alarming picture. Aquifers are being sucked dry by large-scale agriculture, lake levels are falling, and water sources above- and belowground are being polluted. Though he points to a few significant counterefforts—the Clean Water Act (1972) in the United States and local initiatives elsewhere, such as “rainwater harvesting” ponds in India and Kenya—these come off as spotty responses that are often hobbled by political and corporate foot-dragging. He also points to shrinking glaciers and snow packs (plus, for added gloom, superstorms like Sandy) as harbingers of climate change that will lead to widespread future disaster. Aside from occasional incidents or examples and rare if telling photos, though, this jeremiad is largely composed of generalities and big numbers—not a formula for motivating young readers. Nor does the author offer budding eco-activists much in the way of either hope or ways to become part of the solution; for the latter, at least, Cathryn Berger Kaye’s Going Blue: A Teens Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands (2010) is a better choice.

Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled. (source notes, multimedia resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2646-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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