Strong language and strong medicine about the decline of the American economy, but marred by overwrought prose and Monday- morning quarterbacking. Rowen, a columnist for the Washington Post, attributes America's economic decline not to unfair trading practices by Japan or other external factors. It is, he says, a case of ``self- strangulation.'' Rowen examines the men and women who have made economic policy since the Johnson administration. Without attributing any venality (other than perhaps the playing of partisan politics) and admitting that people did the best they could, he nonetheless does assign blame for the low economic state to which the nation has sunk. Emerging from WW II as the only country with an industrial base untouched by war, the US was the most powerful nation on earth. Then, from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, it went from the world's largest creditor to its largest debtor. Rowen ignores JFK, whom he knew personally and who arguably set in motion events leading to the problems Rowen cites. The current crisis, he argues, was initiated by Johnson's Vietnam adventure, which crippled the Great Society and set up a virulent inflationary cycle in its attempt to have both guns and butter. The blunders of LBJ gave way to Nixon's disastrous wage- and price- control attempts, and the abandonment of the gold standard. Ford and Carter were hamstrung by OPEC and were, according to the author, nothing short of inept. By far his harshest criticism is leveled at Reagan's ``voodoo economics,'' with its vain hope that wealth would trickle down from the top. Rowen also attacks Congress, describing it as spineless. For the future, he says, Americans will have to adjust to the economic rise of Asia, focus on high-tech industries, and become less greedy. Rowen's case is compelling, if not totally convincing. He also gives readers a poignant mini-memoir about the life of a newspaperman covering the powerful.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8129-1864-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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