Cohen fans will savor this little-known footnote in the singer’s life.

WHO BY FIRE

LEONARD COHEN IN THE SINAI

A famous singer brings joy and hope to beleaguered Israeli troops.

In October 1973, Syrian and Egyptian forces attacked Israel, starting the Yom Kippur War, and the “strange appearance” of a Leonard Cohen tour at the time has “lived on as underground history.” In this compelling book, award-winning journalist Friedman, a winner of the Sami Rohr Prize, among others, recounts in detail the desert war from the Israeli perspective and Cohen’s role in it. The singer was 39 when he traveled to Sinai, in the grip of drugs, anger, and frustration and disgusted by the music business. Friedman includes a previously unpublished manuscript, “livid and obscene,” that Cohen wrote after his trip to his “myth home,” as Cohen called it. “Cohen’s manuscript about the war tends to raise more questions than it answers,” writes the author. “He’s unwilling to explain directly what he was thinking.” Amid the fighting, it’s unclear exactly where and when the improvised concerts took place, but his first performance took place at Hatzor air base, where he wrote and performed “Lover Lover Lover.” At the time, Cohen wrote “Perhaps I can protect some people with this song.” Friedman includes many emotional reminiscences from soldiers who fought and attended the concerts, describing how much they appreciated the presence of Cohen, who asked them to use his Hebrew name: “ ‘Leonard’ was a foreigner. ‘Eliezer’ was a sibling.” Cohen sang “Suzanne” often—a version of it was then circulating in Hebrew—and he slept on the floor and ate combat rations like everyone else. One soldier said he “gave off an aura of good-heartedness, of unusual humanity.” Cohen told a reporter that he “came to raise their spirits, and they raised mine.” The brief tour wound down with stops at Gen. Ariel Sharon’s desert headquarters, the Sharm el-Sheikh airfield, and a spot outside Suez City. An engaging historical resurrection, the book also includes rare photos.

Cohen fans will savor this little-known footnote in the singer’s life.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-954118-07-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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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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