Rich in research, provocative in conception and nettlesome to both the right and the left.

McWilliams (History/Texas State Univ.; A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, 2005, etc.) argues for moderation and compromise in today’s raging food fights.

Until recently, the author was a locavore—one who eats locally produced food. Though he still believes that it is a dietary commitment with many virtues, he argues that it’s also a feeble, ineffective way to feed the world’s hungry billions. He claims he has no political axe to grind, but he begins with a caricature of the locavores, taking some gratuitous shots at Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry—though he does favorably quote the former later on. Once he’s blown away his straw men, McWilliams presents some appealing alternatives to the views of both the agrarian romantics on the left and the agribusiness capitalists on the right. He says that we’ve exaggerated the importance of the concept of “food miles” (how far—and how expensively—food travels from farm to fork), and he declares that “organic” is appealing and preferable, but wonders how long the earth could accommodate a process that, because of its lower yields, requires more land. The author advocates a judicious use of genetically engineered seeds and food products, believes we must reduce our passion for land-animal protein—it requires far too many resources to produce and pollutes the air, land and water—and urges more attention to the nascent science of aquaponics (fish and plant life grown together in symbiotic cycles). McWilliams then examines political and trade issues and offers more “rational subsidy suggestions”—including government support for crop diversity, aquaponics and seed drilling. He concludes that the best food-production model may be “a broad pattern of regionally integrated, technologically advanced, middle-sized farms.”

Rich in research, provocative in conception and nettlesome to both the right and the left.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-03374-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009


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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