A stunningly shallow and vapid memoir from a man whose lengthy stint as a midlevel official with various federal agencies coincided with the Cold War's beginning and end. For briefly stated reasons that don't ring true, Nuechterlein presents his own story as that of David Bruening and tells it in the third person, using fictitious names for most of the people he dealt with in the course of what appears to have been an uncommonly interesting professional life. Unfortunately, it's difficult to gauge the extent of the author's engagement or excitement because he writes with all the panache of a metronome. By way of example, accounts of his father's birthday observances are accorded the same matter-of-fact detail as momentous global events with which Nuechterlein is personally familiar. In once-over-lightly fashion, he recalls a career that began in 1946 with an editorial post at the official organ of the US Military Government in occupied Germany. He subsequently worked for the USIA in Iceland and Thailand and for the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Burned out from 12-hour days by 1968, he accepted a professorship in international relations at the University of Virginia's Federal Executive Institute (which provides advanced training for senior civil servants). Retiring at 63 in 1988, he continues to work as a visiting professor and foreign-policy expert. But no particular insight that he might have gained is evident here. His deadly earnest statements range from the pronouncement (on William Casey) that ``it's dangerous to have a CIA director who's so powerful he can cut out the State and Defense departments from operations'' through the empty assurance that a tour of Mauthausen (a Nazi concentration camp) ``was an emotional experience as well as an educational one.'' Dispensable reminiscences from a low-level cold warrior unable to convey any real sense of what it meant or felt like to live in challenging times.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8131-2027-6

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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

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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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