Author of several regional travel guides, Scheer, a radio disc jockey, spent six weeks traveling nearly 14,000 miles on Amtrak. What, he asked, remains of the grand old traditions of railway passenger service? This wonderful account shows that the excitement and romance haven't entirely vanished. Setting out from Greensboro, N.C., aboard the New Orleans- bound Crescent, Scheer planned to ride as many routes as possible and booked a variety of accommodations, from coach to Superliner sleepers. He rode trains with names that ring with the history of the rails: the City of New Orleans; the California Zephyr; the Sunset Limited. Rich with observations on his fellow travelers, trainmen, and attendants, and his descriptions of the countryside and towns and cities, Scheer's personal and historical asides, his architectural and technological tidbits, lift this well beyond mere travelogue. Most importantly, his running history of the development of railroads, depots, styles of cars and engines demonstrates more than a fan's passion for train lore. Though he catalogues a typical traveler's list of bad meals, cramped quarters, and sleepless nights, he offsets the negatives with his delight in the occasional fine dish or comfortable berth. He completed the first two thirds of the trip at a rather leisurely pace, with time out for stops to bicycle around New Orleans, to walk around St. Louis, to visit an old fishing buddy in Austin, to bomb around L.A. in a 1970 Plymouth, to take side trips out of Santa Fe to Cimarron and Taos, and to stop at McDonald Creek in Glacier National Park in the middle of a blizzard to watch migrating bald eagles feed on spawning kokanee salmon. The final third of the journey—from Chicago back to Greensboro via Montreal—was crammed into 11 days on 10 different trains, and is given only short shift here. Like Richard B. McAdoo's Eccentric Circles (p.34), which revealed an unexpected richness in RV travel, Scheer's zesty report points to an attractive alternative to the drudgery of car travel and the dizzying, impersonal hop from airport to airport. (Maps—not seen.)

Pub Date: April 20, 1991

ISBN: 0-945575-40-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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?