And somewhere out in left field, too: The Sterns' new addition to their popular volumes of Americana (The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, Sixties People, Elvis World, etc.) tackles ``the West of the imagination''—the West mythologized by dime novels, TV, and films; populated by singing cowboys who kiss their horses, Indians who raise their right hands and say ``How,'' and pesky ``critters'' like rattlesnakes and scorpions; and redolent with the scent of hot chili and chicken-fried steak. The husband-and-wife team do their usual entertaining job of rounding up this retrograde West— providing plenty of lore on rodeos, natural wonders, ``equine superstars'' (the rumor is true: Trigger is indeed stuffed and on display at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victoryville, California, along with Bullet the Wonder Dog and Dale's horse, Buttermilk), lariat-throwing, proper cowboy dinners, and so on. But to pretend—other than in a few paragraphs—that this West isn't a mirage floating above a sea of oppression and bloodshed, and to celebrate this phantasmagorical vision, seems akin to celebrating the Old South without reference to the slavery that sustained it. Moreover, the author's survey leaves out several crucial, if less cute, elements of the Western myth. Astonishingly, there's no discussion of outlaws here—no Billy the Kid, no Jesse James; there's no survey of the black cowboys who rode alongside the whites (and who do figure in the myth, as in Woody Strode's many Western film roles); and while the Sterns chronicle the stereotyped representation of Indians, they offer no survey of more real, and equally enduring, images of Indians, as in the film A Man Called Horse. All in all, then, a lopsided, outdated guide, best suited for those who still think that Custer died with his boots on. (Photographs—200 b&w and 300 color)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-016873-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1993

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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