ANGRY WIND

THROUGH MUSLIM BLACK AFRICA BY TRUCK, BUS, BOAT, AND CAMEL

Moreover, Angry Wind merits a solid audience at the African desks of Western intelligence agencies. There’s trouble brewing...

An often scintillating if sometimes sluggish tour of the western Sahel, that narrow coast of dry land between the Central African rainforest and the oceanic Sahara.

Much of that country is ethnically black but culturally Arab, the product of nothing short of cultural imperialism among the Arabs, slave traders in the not-so-distant past. The Arab conquest of the Sahel is incomplete, writes Tayler (Facing the Congo, 2001, etc.), but ongoing and scarring. Why not, then, call it imperialism? Well, answers Tayler, “calling the presence of Arabs here unjust amounted to attacking Islam and was impermissible; hence the Africans suffered their anti-Arab grievances with downcast eyes.” Indeed, as Tayler travels through Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, the open anger he encounters is almost always directed against America in the abstract (and sometimes against Americans, namely him, in the particular). The Sahelians’ anger is understandable, Tayler suggests. These poor regions have been badly used, left alone to suffer, and allowed to become failed states bound up as nations mostly out of geographic convenience during colonial times; and whereas France and England should properly feel their wrath, what the desert-dwellers see on television is America as anti-Islamic crusader. “To stop one man, Osama,” yells one Sahelian he encounters at a Chadian oasis, “you destroyed an entire country, Afghanistan—a country of the poorest people on earth. Is that manly—picking on those poor Afghans?” No empty rhetoric, that, and the Sahel, writes Tayler, is a fertile recruiting ground for al Qaeda; Osama bin Laden identified Nigeria as particularly ripe, sick as it is politically yet bursting with oil wealth. Not all of Tayler’s set pieces work, and his travelogue is sometimes as wearying to read as it must have been to research. Still, there are some fine moments here, and Tayler’s righteously indignant arguments against female circumcision should be required reading for the cultural-relativist set.

Moreover, Angry Wind merits a solid audience at the African desks of Western intelligence agencies. There’s trouble brewing in the Sahel, Tayler warns: Don’t say no one told you so.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-33467-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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NUTCRACKER

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

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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