THE PARADOX OF PLENTY

A SOCIAL HISTORY OF EATING IN MODERN AMERICA

Levenstein's Revolution at the Table (1988), which surveyed the changes in American food habits between 1880 and 1930, is widely deemed a major contribution to our culinary history. Here, he brings the story up to date. The author provides an overview made coherent by several running motifs: nutrition claims by experts, industry, and industry bashers; the ``nutrition terrorism'' of ``negative nutrition'' and industry's response by adopting the magic word ``natural''; and the patterns in which food fashions trickle up or down among classes. Also discussed are immigrants' gastronomic Americanization and, later, Americans' appropriation of ethnic foods; the concurrent rise of fast-food chains and ``gourmet'' dining; the politics of hunger from FDR on; and the far-from-original observation highlighted in the title: the paradox of hunger and plenty existing side by side. As the chronology proceeds and Levenstein (History/McMaster Univ., Ontario) comes closer to recent memory, the more impatient readers might become with his sweeping and cursory assertions and judgments—for example, his unspecific linking of New Left politics with the natural-foods movement, and his breezy dismissal of cholesterol concerns. (On this last topic, as throughout, he seems to be looking down with a faint disdain on all groups and views.) Still, Levenstein's examples and anecdotes of folly and worse, and his debunking of experts and authorities from Margaret Mead on, make lively reading. (Fifteen halftones.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-505543-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more