Great for anyone still interested.

Washington Post editorialist Wittes takes a sympathetic second look at Kenneth Starr.

There’s little middle ground in opinions on the controversial special prosecutor. Depending on whom you ask, Starr is either the man who brought virtue back to Washington or a politically driven witch-hunter. Wittes, by contrast, argues that Starr is an intelligent, sincere, and not particularly partisan person who made significant if well-intentioned mistakes during his tenure as independent counsel. He came to that office with a stellar reputation and a publicly stated opposition to its existence. At the time of his appointment, it was thought that this opposition would lead Starr to a limited view of his role. Instead, ever the good soldier, he set aside his personal opposition to the law and moved forward aggressively. Wittes views this willingness to broadly interpret the role of the independent counsel as an inexcusable error that laid the groundwork for Starr’s later excesses, most important among these the mistaken understanding of his office as an American truth commission. Starr’s predecessors, Wittes claims, correctly understood that the unique power of their position required that they either bring charges or close up shop, whereas Starr felt no such pressure. As a result, he kept cases open longer than a prosecutor solely concerned with charging lawbreakers would have. In the investigations of the Vincent Foster suicide, the White House Travel Office firings, and the Whitewater case, exhaustive inquiries resulted in precious few arrests. Of course, Starr hit the jackpot with Monica Lewinsky, but this too, Wittes suggests, was mishandled. By focusing on the lurid details, he missed an opportunity to move forward at a time when he might have ended Clinton’s presidency. The author presents his case with admirable skill, but one cannot help but wonder if people will want to read about a man who exhausted their patience.

Great for anyone still interested.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-300-09252-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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