A treasure trove for fans of the New Yorker, political satire, and graphic design.


Indelible images from one of America’s leading political cartoonists.

Though he claims that “my comprehension of politics was and remains superficial,” Blitt’s (The Founding Fathers!, 2016, etc.) magazine covers, especially for the New Yorker, have not only spurred considerable dialogue in the culture at large, but also helped frame the dialogue in American political discourse. There was the image of the Obamas giving each other fist bumps while dressed in terrorist garb; the one with the Monty Python–esque “silly walks” showing Brits walking off the cliff with Brexit; and the flooding of the Bush cabinet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina—not to mention the many involving the 2016 election of Trump in general, who has been the gift that keeps on giving. How does Blitt do it? He does his best to explain, showing his drafting table and sheets covered with inkblots. He offers a “neurotic’s diary,” the daily routine, and he provides revelatory glimpses of the process, the sketches, and drafts preceding the finished illustration. He also inventories the “tools of the trade”—not only the array of artistic supplies, but a pharmacy’s worth of prescribed medications. So here you have everything that goes into a Blitt cartoon, but unless you are Blitt, you will never achieve what he does with those ingredients. He admits that not even he knows how he does what he does or even exactly what a powerful image might mean. But accompanying these illustrations is plenty of testimony on what sets him apart. Frank Rich praises “the spontaneity, grace, and power of Barry’s art,” which often accompanied the columnist’s Sunday pieces for the New York Times. “Paying attention to small details, Blitt manages to make points about big issues,” says Francoise Mouly, the New Yorker’s art editor. Many of these illustrations remain fresh in memory, though the tossed-off sketches and previously unpublished work are every bit as illuminating.

A treasure trove for fans of the New Yorker, political satire, and graphic design.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-57666-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A beautifully written, pensive, and restorative memoir.


A quiet meditation on art and life.

Matar’s Pulitzer Prize–winning memoir, The Return (2016), was about his Libyan father who was kidnapped in Cairo and taken back, imprisoned, and “gradually, like salt dissolving in water, was made to vanish.” His father’s presence reverberates throughout this thoughtful, sensitive extended essay about the author’s visit to Siena, where he ruminates and reflects on paintings, faith, love, and his wife, Diana. Matar focuses on the 13th- to 15th-century Sienese School of paintings which “stood alone, neither Byzantine nor of the Renaissance, an anomaly between chapters, like the orchestra tuning its strings in the interval,” but he discusses others as well. First, he explores the town, “as intimate as a locket you could wear around your neck and yet as complex as a maze.” Day or night, the “city seemed to be the one determining the pace and direction of my walks.” In the Palazzo Pubblico, Matar scrutinized a series of frescos the “size of a tennis court” painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in 1338. As the author writes, his Allegory of Good Government is a “hymn to justice.” Matar astutely describes it in great detail, as he does with all the paintings he viewed. When one is in a despondent mood, paintings, Matar writes, seem to “articulate a feeling of hope.” He also visited a vast cemetery, a “glimpse [of] death’s endless appetite.” Over the month, he talked with a variety of Sienese people, including a Jordanian man whom he befriended. One by one, paintings flow by: Caravaggio’s “curiously tragic” David With the Head of Goliath, Duccio di Buoninsegna’s “epic altarpiece,” Maestà. Mounted onto a cart in 1311, it was paraded through Siena. Along the way, Matar also ponders the metaphysics of rooms and offers a luminous, historical assessment of the Black Death.

A beautifully written, pensive, and restorative memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12913-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Clear journalistic prose makes sense of the befuddling legal entanglements in an ongoing battle that has become notorious in...



American Lawyer deputy editor Anderson chronicles the legal contests over the administration of America’s largest private art collection.

The author begins with a fair portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, amasser of the famous Barnes Collection and creator of the eponymous foundation charged with its preservation. Barnes received his medical degree at 20 and went on to wrest control of a pharmaceutical company that owned exclusive rights to manufacture an internationally prescribed gonorrhea medicine. (His signature style throughout his life was to hire first-rate legal counsel and pursue his litigious course until he got what he wanted.) Barnes’s fortune, preserved through the Depression, permitted the assembly of a fabulous collection that included 180 Renoirs; it’s currently valued at six billion dollars. Just before his death in 1951, the doctor changed the terms of the foundation’s indenture, granting control to the trustees of Lincoln College, the oldest black college in America, setting the stage for a long round of disputes. While the collection gained tremendously in value over the next four decades, the size of the endowment that paid for the upkeep of the French Renaissance palace that housed it dwindled through mismanagement. In the 1990s, foundation president Richard H. Glanton, a high-profile African-American lawyer, oversaw the galleries’ renovation and undertook the expensive litigation responsible for bringing the foundation to the edge of ruin. Anderson describes these conflicts in a work that by his own admission is “a legal tale” rather than a scholarly biography or a work of art history. The absence of footnotes, he explains, springs from the desire of his best sources to remain anonymous. That’s not surprising, considering the rancor all this legal wrangling has generated, including a lawsuit over a parking lot instituted in federal court that invoked the Ku Klux Klan Act.

Clear journalistic prose makes sense of the befuddling legal entanglements in an ongoing battle that has become notorious in the art world and beyond. (16 illustrations)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-393-04889-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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