Hettinga (Presenting Madeline L’Engle, 1993) lays the intertwined careers of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm against a turbulent backdrop of Napoleonic invasions, civil unrest, and family misfortunes. He presents them as a pair of librarian/scholars who, despite (some) differences of temperament and interest, lived together for nearly their entire lives, achieving not only international renown for their researches into language and folk literature, but local notoriety as two of the “Göttingen Seven,” a group of professors fired for refusing to take a loyalty oath to an autocratic new king. Though the author is guilty of tucking in a few too many minor details—a wallpaper pattern, a menu, a certain glass coffin that turns out not to be the inspiration for the one in “Snow White”—his account of how the Grimms collected their tales through “tricks and trades, gifts and gatherings” makes fascinating reading. An annotated list of books by and about the brothers helps to compensate for a stingy assortment of illustrations and a long, superfluous list of fairy tale titles. Like Brust’s The Amazing Paper Cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen (1994), this makes absorbing reading for folktale fans interested in the story behind the Stories. (afterword, source notes, picture credits, timeline) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-05599-1

Page Count: 173

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

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At Home With The Presidents (176 pp.; $12.95; Sept. 24; 0-471-25300-6) Morris offers succinct biographical information and anecdotes about all 41 presidents with brief information about homes they grew up it, historic sites dedicated to them, or libraries in which their artifacts are housed. Included are small pictures of the presidents and some of the buildings discussed. Readers will find the book of limited use for research, since the sources for quotations are not given, there is no index, and material considered controversial is not attributed. Appearing out of context are statements such as “George Washington adored his older brother” and “George’s mother was jealous of the two brother’s relationship.” The information on historic sites is upbeat but bland, and could have come right out of tourist brochures. (b&w photographs, illustrations, further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1999

ISBN: 0-471-25300-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.



A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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