Not the definitive history of champagne, but a pleasing contribution, to be read over a mimosa or a magnum.



Champagne is champagne because it comes from Champagne. But there’s much more to it than that, as the wine-loving Kladstrups (Wine & War, 2001) document in this sometimes fizzy portrait of the bubbly.

Faux naïveté may be at play when, by way of opening, the Kladstrups let drop the hint that they were shocked to learn that the Great War was horrific; that certainly isn’t news to the people of France’s much-fought-over Champagne region. That four-year conflict proves central to the authors’ account of how bubbly survived the odds to become a drink known around the world—and to become an ever-rarer commodity in parts of it, as when Cristal went from selling 600,000 bottles a year at the beginning of WWI in St. Petersburg alone, “exclusively for the czar,” to selling nothing in Russia after the Revolution, nearly bankrupting the house of Roederer. Closer to home, the war threatened to destroy some of France’s most productive vineyards, which previous wars had destroyed many times over since the days of the Roman conquest and Attila. The Kladstrup’s travelogue, real and metaphorical, through the Champagne region—battles over which were waged by French bureaucrats and boosters, too, as to just what the region comprised and who was entitled to use its “controlled denomination”—gets a little almanac-like at times, lending a sort of everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about feel to the enterprise. Still, there’s good history to be found here, and plenty of treasures in that surfeit of facts and trivia; the authors’ account of a drunken German retreat at the beginning of WWI is a standout, as is their minibiography of the since-appropriated Dom Pérignon, who didn’t really invent champagne—“it invented itself”—but still deserves glory for his work in raising the global quality of life with his exquisite blends of potent grape juice.

Not the definitive history of champagne, but a pleasing contribution, to be read over a mimosa or a magnum.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-073792-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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