In this brisk account of the Third Crusade (1189—1192), Regan, author of numerous popular military histories, shines a soft, flattering light on the leaders of the two opposing forces in the greatest of all oxymorons: holy war. Early chapters focus first on the boyhood and rise to power of King Richard I (the Lionheart), then on the analogous biographical aspects of Saladin, the Muslim leader. (Though joined in history, the two principals never met.) Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187 precipitated the Third Crusade, details of which—preparations, alliances, journeys, strategies, battles—comprise most of the book. A patent admirer of military strategy, technology, and leadership (both Saladin and Richard occupy prominent spots in Regan’s pantheon), of the accomplishments of individual warriors, Regan can manage only a perfunctory condemnation of Richard’s murder of 3,000 Muslim captives after the siege of Acre; almost droll are his descriptions of Richard collecting enemy heads. Nonetheless, Regan’s considerable narrative gifts guide readers gracefully across unfamiliar and unforgiving terrain in company with exotic 12th-century people whose loyalties to one another are startlingly evanescent and whose harsh pieties permit wholesale human slaughter in the names of Jesus and Mohammed. Piquant anecdotes frequently enliven the prose (Frederick Barbarossa drowned in a foot of water on his way to the Holy Land; Richard nearly lost his life when he stole a peasant’s falcon), but general readers will need to scurry to their dictionaries—big ones!—to look up much of the archaic martial terminology (e.g., mangonel, fascine, haqueton, gambeson, and trebuchet). And some might wonder why Regan is so determined to demonstrate that Richard Lionheart was not a homosexual (he raises the issue in three separate places), or why he comments a couple of times on the quality of prostitutes in the Christian encampment. A paean to Richard and Saladin and desert warfare—the clashes of cultures resound as loudly as those of the weapons. (8 pages photos, not seen; 5 maps)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8027-1354-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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