A meticulously researched, consistently entertaining biography of the legendary turn-of-the-century journalist whose true adventures far outstripped the boundaries of myth. For this first full-scale treatment of Bly, former United Press International reporter Kroeger reaches through a web of half- truths (many courtesy of the subject herself) and scanty facts to uncover the complex path of ``a life not so much lived as waged.'' Born near Pittsburgh in 1864, Elizabeth Jane Cochran began her career with an extraordinary stroke of luck—the editor of The Pittsburgh Dispatch, fascinated by her spirited letter rebuking a columnist who urged women to stay at home, gave the untrained 20- year-old a position and, in the fashion of the day, a catchy life- long pseudonym. But it was her own initiative that secured lasting fame. Deciding to scale the walls of newspaper capital New York, with her sights set on Joseph Pulitzer's splashy The World, Bly quickly became a leading investigative reporter in a business still largely closed to women. National celebrity came with an effort to better Jules Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg by going around the world in 75 days. Her relentlessly self-referential but charming and uninhibited style made Bly, in Kroeger's estimation, perhaps the first ``gonzo'' journalist. Reborn as an enlightened manufacturer after a curious elopement with a millionaire industrialist 40 years her senior, Bly mastered technology sufficiently to pick up 25 patents in her own name. Financial ruin drew the now-widowed Bly to Austria to report from the front lines of WW I, and a final foray into New York journalism, just prior to her death at 57, cast Bly as a passionate advocate for downtrodden women and children. While skillfully conveying the outlines of an astounding life, Kroeger, hampered by a lack of intimate detail, never manages to make Bly a fully three-dimensional character- -although, as she amply demonstrates, four or five dimensions would seem more appropriate. Inspiring reading for those searching out a feminist role model—or just a breathless ride through an incredible life. (16 pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8129-1973-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994



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

Close Quickview