A remarkably incisive account of an endlessly compelling figure.

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INTREPID'S LAST SECRETS

THEN AND NOW: HISTORY, SPIES AND LIES

A revisionist history of the infamous Canadian spy William Stephenson that focuses on the fascist enemies that he encountered in Allied territories.

The historical legacy of spymaster Stephenson has long been a confusing one. Some historians consider him a minor player in the clandestine machinations of World War II; others believe his contributions were inestimable in value; and still others don’t comment on him at all. As former teacher and journalist Macdonald (The True Intrepid, 2011) observes, it surely didn’t help that Stephenson lied to authors and reporters about the details of his own life. With astonishing meticulousness, the author sets out to fill in these lacunae, starting with Stephenson’s early years in Manitoba, Canada, where he became a successful entrepreneur. He established his own industrial espionage group in the mid-1930s for business purposes, and by 1939, he was in contact with Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. Stephenson was eventually sent to New York City as a so-called passport control officer, where he ran his own organization, the British Security Coordination, whose aims were to undermine the Axis powers as well as homegrown fascist groups working to undermine the Allies in the United States and England. Macdonald follows American historian Carroll Quigley’s research closely as he shines a light on these groups, which included such institutions as the Council on Foreign Relations, which he contends was working against President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Macdonald’s study is not only rigorously researched, but also conveyed in cinematic terms—and as a result, even unconvinced readers will find themselves riveted. Over the course of the book, the author draws on so much tangled evidence, including hearsay and rumor, that the work has the air of a conspiracy theory at times. However, his argument is relentlessly thorough, and his principal contentions seem plausible. Finally, Macdonald makes a ringing case for exploring a nation’s past: “A country with unexamined history is a country without a soul.”<

A remarkably incisive account of an endlessly compelling figure.

Pub Date: July 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2413-4

Page Count: 552

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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