An informative first book for novices that covers a wide range of basic mechanics, tools and measures.

Start With Mechanics - Color


Jacobs’ nuts-and-bolts mechanics guide covers what a layperson or newbie mechanic would need to get a foothold in the field.

Though little attempt is made to go into any particular depth, the book’s scattershot compilation of everything from parts to pumps will well serve anyone entering the world of mechanics for the first time. The initial chapter on basic mechanical theory addresses measures and motion, ending with the devices that control and power many of today’s machines. Chapter 2, “The Six Machines,” delves into levers, gears, screws and the concept of mechanical advantage, and in “Mechanical Components,” Jacobs goes into cams, solenoids, rollers, clutches, chains and a rudimentary description of the four-stroke gasoline engine. The next chapter, aptly named “Tools,” covers a wide range of basic hand tools, from hammers to pliers, including a few common power tools. The final chapter, “Mounting and Fastening Components,” introduces everything from bolts to bearings, with a smattering of electrical connections and a brief introduction to levers and linkages. Every chapter is rife with visuals to help identify the tools, parts, devices and concepts being presented. In most cases, the thumbnail illustrations are enough to get the author’s point across, and the photos adequately portray the subject matter. Since the book is so light on text, readers can easily go cover to cover in a very short time, grasping basic mechanical concepts without getting overly technical. However, the book suffers from a few drawbacks that could be easily remedied. In some cases, there’s a needless repetition of illustrations and photos, as when showing screw slot types. In other instances, some illustrations—such as those covering clutches, cams and levers—are simply too rudimentary to convey the author’s intention. The page layouts could be improved through the use of a professional designer: With an arbitrary mix of illustration and photography (black and white and color), there seems to be little consistency from page to page in terms of design.

An informative first book for novices that covers a wide range of basic mechanics, tools and measures.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479148677

Page Count: 96

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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A brief but sometimes knotty and earnest set of studies best suited for Shakespeare enthusiasts.


A brisk study of 20 of the Bard’s plays, focused on stripping off four centuries of overcooked analysis and tangled reinterpretations.

“I don’t really care what he might have meant, nor should you,” writes Smith (Shakespeare Studies/Oxford Univ.; Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, 2016, etc.) in the introduction to this collection. Noting the “gappy” quality of many of his plays—i.e., the dearth of stage directions, the odd tonal and plot twists—the author strives to fill those gaps not with psychological analyses but rather historical context for the ambiguities. She’s less concerned, for instance, with whether Hamlet represents the first flower of the modern mind and instead keys into how the melancholy Dane and his father share a name, making it a study of “cumulative nostalgia” and our difficulty in escaping our pasts. Falstaff’s repeated appearances in multiple plays speak to Shakespeare’s crowd-pleasing tendencies. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a bawdier and darker exploration of marriage than its teen-friendly interpretations suggest. Smith’s strict-constructionist analyses of the plays can be illuminating: Her understanding of British mores and theater culture in the Elizabethan era explains why Richard III only half-heartedly abandons its charismatic title character, and she is insightful in her discussion of how Twelfth Night labors to return to heterosexual convention after introducing a host of queer tropes. Smith's Shakespeare is eminently fallible, collaborative, and innovative, deliberately warping play structures and then sorting out how much he needs to un-warp them. Yet the book is neither scholarly nor as patiently introductory as works by experts like Stephen Greenblatt. Attempts to goose the language with hipper references—Much Ado About Nothing highlights the “ ‘bros before hoes’ ethic of the military,” and Falstaff is likened to Homer Simpson—mostly fall flat.

A brief but sometimes knotty and earnest set of studies best suited for Shakespeare enthusiasts.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4854-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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