Comprehensive report by veteran science writer Davis (Mapping the Code, 1990, etc.) on the glories and mysteries of language. Evidence that animals can talk is, Davis says, ``scant at best'': Language remains a distinctively human trait and perhaps our crowning achievement, and it may play a key role in the creation of the sense of an ``I,'' by which we know ourselves and the world. According to Davis, language is at least 100,000 years old, although its origins remain misty. We do know that all extant languages are equally complex (no so-called ``primitive'' language exists) and that all languages evolve—a process for which Davis uses English (the ``single most important spoken and written language'') as a fascinating case history, tracing how ``dramatic changes in vowel pronunciation'' turned Chaucer's English into the language spoken today. This sort of study arises from the blossoming of linguistics, which Davis traces from its origins in ancient Greece and India through the breakthrough work, in the 18th century, of Sir William Jones (who first noticed that Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin are related) to the transformational grammar of Noam Chomsky, who perceives innate language structures in the mind. But minds require brains, and Davis explains in great detail how the brain stores and processes information, as well as how it produces language. It turns out that language abilities are spread throughout our gray matter and that, in multilingual people, different areas of the brain handle different languages. The stages of language acquisition in infants are also covered—from crying to gurgling to babbling to real talking (which begins at about one year). Seven appendices offer a bounty of language miscellany, from a pronunciation guide for phonetic symbols to a chart of Indo-European tongues. A first-rate overview of language from A to Z, and then some.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1993

ISBN: 1-55972-206-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?


With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet