An interesting examination of the nature of movements “half a million strong,” as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young declared.

An academic investigation into the weird, communal nature of rock festivals.

Thankfully, Arnold (Rhetoric and Media Studies/Univ. of San Francisco; Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, 2014, etc.), a former rock journalist who is the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock, has logged many hours at festivals such as Lollapalooza, so this somewhat dry examination of crowds and social movements has some juice to it. The author begins the narrative not with Woodstock but with a free concert given by famous soprano Luisa Tetrazzini in San Francisco on Christmas Eve 1910 for 250,000 people. From there, Arnold plays a lot of “greatest hits” of festivals—Bob Dylan going electric, the Monterey International Pop Festival, Woodstock, and Altamont—but she also dredges up a lot of influential but less-infamous gatherings, from a 1969 summit between Ken Kesey, Paul Krassner, Mimi Fariña, and Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully to reimagine “the architecture of mass gatherings,” to Steve Wozniak’s doomed US Festival, or “Woodstock West.” The author also admits that the whole culture shifted while she was writing, pointing to vast changes regarding how we consume music, what gatherings signify in our collective consciousness, and the role of diversity in festival culture—specifically that “the rock crowd is essentially normed to the white male psyche” and its attending liabilities. There are plenty of histories of music festivals available, from Joel Selvin’s recent post-mortem of Altamont to Bob Spitz’s Barefoot in Babylon, about the creation of Woodstock. By adding her own experience at a multitude of festivals to insights from influential participants in rock culture, Arnold creates a readable inquiry that demonstrates why rock festivals matter, and she points the way to how they—and we as a culture—might do better in terms of diversity and inclusion.

An interesting examination of the nature of movements “half a million strong,” as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young declared.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60938-608-5

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018



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




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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