Nineteen brief but resonant vignettes of life in the Pacific Basin as the area is transformed by its entry into the world of international trade and finance. Drawn from Viviano's experiences as a reporter for the Pacific News Service and San Francisco Chronicle, the larger story of economic development, societal change, and shifting values is captured here in the day-to-day lives of such individuals as a former Red Guard, a Taiwanese bok-choy farmer-turned-entrepreneur, and a Hmong tribesman transferred from the Laotian highlands to California's Silicon Valley. Temporarily assigned to the Far East in 1979, Viviano quickly becomes fascinated by Asia, and his sojourn eventually stretches to 12 years. During his stint, the sharp-eyed author travels to the tottering People's Republic of China during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, to the Philippines of the newly installed Corazon Aquino, to the Las Vegas/Atlantic City glitz of China's ``fleshpot'' resort of Xiamen. In every venue, Viviano manages to interview individuals whose lives are being transformed by the events around them, and he's continually on the alert for ironies and irrationalities—as highlighted, for instance, in his discussion of Singapore: ``It was amusing, in these years of Washington's Evil Empire rhetoric, to hear Ronald Reagan cite Singapore as a sterling example of the achievements of free enterprise, when it was actually one of the most thoroughly socialistic nations on earth.'' Viviano also points out that, although the Gulf War prevented him from doing so, James Baker was scheduled to take part in an expedition in Mongolia to hunt the seriously endangered ibox. Marred slightly by the author's reticence about his own life; otherwise, a satisfying work that's less scholarly but perhaps even more effective than Stan Sesser's The Lands of Charm and Cruelty (p. 359).

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-201-63290-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?



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

Did you like this book?