Here, Jacobsen, an American hospital administrator held hostage by the Islamic Jihad for 17 months, details the hell of captivity and questions the good faith of US efforts to free the remaining hostages. Writing with veteran author Astor (The Last Nazi, 1985, etc.), Jacobsen tells of his capture in May 1985 while director of the American Univ. of Beirut's Medical Center, and of his ensuing ordeal: his captors' petty humiliations (false promises of release; constant surveillance, even at the toilet); his frustration when Reagan broadcast a no-negotiation-with-terrorists policy; his terror when an American newscaster's speculation that Jacobsen was encoding secret messages in videotaped statements resulted in a savage beating. And he writes also of what sustained him and his fellow hostages: close friendship (in Jacobsen's case, especially with AP correspondent Terry Anderson, still held hostage after six years), plus faith and twice-daily religious services conducted by a hostage priest and minister. Throughout, Jacobsen questions US hostage and terrorism policies, arguing the urgency of saving the hostages and asserting that many rescue and negotiation options have been and are being ignored. (Released in November 1986 as part of the infamous arms-for-hostages trade with Iran, Jacobsen praises Oliver North and his cohorts for heroism.) The author also condemns the naked villainy of Islamic extremist groups, but fails to examine whether Mideast problems have any roots in US policies. An understandably angry, and effective, polemic/memoir, likely to catch the attention—and maybe even prick the consciences—of D.C. powerbrokers.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1991

ISBN: 1-55611-265-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991



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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