An intriguing perspective on a profession that very quickly captivated our attention—a great gift idea for the foodie in the...




A tasty venture in a culinary wonderland.

In his latest book, Friedman (Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition, 2011, etc.), who has co-authored more than 20 cookbooks, focuses on the rise of the chef profession. The author anchors the book at the beginning of the 1970s, when “Americans, from coast to coast, and in large numbers, began voluntarily, enthusiastically cooking in restaurants for a living—a once forbidden and unrespected professional course—screw the consequences.” He argues that when ambition becomes a driving force in a young professional’s life, it quickly outweighs the possible repercussions. This was a new mindset at the time, when professional tracks were still highly structured and conservative. Specifically, Friedman explains that the Vietnam War created an urgency to take more risks in regard to pursuing vocations. He goes on to tell the tale of Wolfgang Puck’s rise to fame and creation of his signature restaurants, Spago and Chinois on Main, as well as the establishment—and sometimes, dissolution—of landmark restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, including Ma Maison, The Quilted Giraffe, Chanterelle, Le Cirque, and La Côte Basque. In discussing these restaurants, Friedman also examines the psychology involved in their success. For instance, the author describes at length the omnipotence of French cuisine in American food culture: “a funny thing happened to many of those Americans who mastered French cuisine: They quickly developed a desire to move beyond it, to forge their own style, whether a personalized answer to nouvelle cuisine, or—in many cases—the development of a distinctly American repertoire founded on the hard-earned techniques they’d picked up from the French.” Friedman is at his best when exploring the intricacies of the relationships among restaurant owners and chefs—Puck, Thomas Keller, Buzzy O’Keeffe, Larry Forgione, Marc Sarrazin, Paul Prudhomme, and dozens of others who were constantly innovating.

An intriguing perspective on a profession that very quickly captivated our attention—a great gift idea for the foodie in the house.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-222585-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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