A wise perspective on America’s cultural divide.




The rise of populism inspired a journalist’s search for answers.

Former Time staff writer and columnist Stein (Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, 2012) brings wit, irreverence, and considerable thoughtfulness to a timely issue: the rise of anti-elitism in politics, science, education, and many other areas that privilege knowledge and expertise. “Elites are people who think; populists are people who believe,” he writes. “Elites defer to experts; populists listen to their own guts. Elites value cooperation; populists are tribal.” To help elites turn back the populist trend, the author decided to investigate what populists want, why they think as they do, and how elites can maintain and defend their authority in a changing world. His search took him to Miami, Texas, a town of about 600 residents, more than 95 percent of them Trump voters. As he expected, they own guns, are faithful congregants of the First Baptist Church, and take every opportunity “to delegitimize expertise.” The Miamians think that hyphenated Americans only inflame racial and ethnic conflict. “Elites may have not caused racism,” they contend, “but they’ve magnified racial tensions, in the same way that abolitionists exacerbated our nation’s problem with slavery.” They trust one another but not their country. “They’re living in a remote tribal island,” Stein concludes, “untouched by the last thirty years.” Yet, they welcomed the author—a journalist and a Jew—warmly. Stein’s research also took him to elite conferences, where, he discovered, “the elite dream, is not to own a yacht but to give a TED talk.” Among Stein’s interviewees are FOX political commentator Tucker Carlson, who rants against diversity, and “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, who has bought into the “primordial masculinity” of populism, along with its conspiracy theories. Stein repeatedly—and persuasively—makes a case for expertise. “The world seems fragile and I want trustworthy, trained people running it,” he writes. As for the “Intellectual Elites” who do, precariously, run the world, he offers a word of advice: respect. Listen without judging or mocking; negotiate with empathy.

A wise perspective on America’s cultural divide.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-9147-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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

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