Think becoming a surgeon is tough? Psaltis’s apprenticeship makes a medical internship look relaxing.

THE SEASONING OF A CHEF

MY JOURNEY FROM DINER TO DUCASSE AND BEYOND

Debut memoir describing the author’s ferocious dedication to great food and the long, grinding road he traveled to become a top-flight chef.

Psaltis may be starting his own Manhattan restaurant, but he, like many of his forebears, started at the nadir of the food chain: packing the Dumpster and swabbing the greasy pots at his grandfather’s small diner in Jamaica, Queens. He was ten years old and rarely left the kitchen after that, slowly working his way up to more accomplished positions. In formal, flowing prose (crafted with twin brother Michael, a literary agent), Psaltis explains that when he felt he had learned or achieved all he could in any particular establishment, he would find a better place to work, even though each move up in restaurant quality meant a move down for him in the kitchen hierarchy. It was worth it for the knowledge he gained: about efficiency and speed; about food that is fancy, not fun; about finesse, not flair; about the chef as primary source of energy, dedication, inspiration and atmosphere in the kitchen. It’s hard to imagine a more exacting individual, yet impossible not to admire his dedication: In a chef’s life, he avers, the few hours not devoted to work are largely consumed by (insufficient) sleep. Psaltis is curious and unafraid to experiment, organized and fanatically clean, exacting and refined. Highly attuned to food, he writes that “becoming a chef in your own right . . . means understanding why you were doing each step.” Psaltis became a chef the old-fashioned way, and he has plenty of good stories about what it is like to work your way up in the kitchens of David Bouley, Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller. He is too proud to talk out of school, but he has no problem explaining his take on the pros and cons of each establishment, and he recalls incredible snafus as well as brilliant creations.

Think becoming a surgeon is tough? Psaltis’s apprenticeship makes a medical internship look relaxing.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2005

ISBN: 0-7679-1968-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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