What can a celebrated fashion designer tell you about the history of Germany's Third Reich? You'd be surprised. Weitz (Friends in High Places, 1982, etc.) grew up in Berlin's haut monde, fled the Nazis with his family in 1938, and returned as an OSS spy five years later. He hasn't forgotten much, and succeeds in putting a personal spin on his account of Hitler's foreign minister. Ribbentrop (1893-1946) was a go-getter from the start, a bright boy of modest means and boundless ambition who ended up with the Nazis largely because they made him the best offer. The son of an army officer, he started a wine-exporting business as a young man and joined the army in 1914. After the war, he threw himself into the social whirl of Berlin, cultivating the friendship of the high and mighty. One of his biggest catches was Franz von Papen, who became chancellor under the von Hindenburg government. In 1932, von Papen asked Ribbentrop to meet with Hitler to convince him to form a coalition government. Hitler refused—but converted Ribbentrop to National Socialism in the process. Among the Nazis, Ribbentrop was an anomaly—most of the Nazi leadership was of proletarian or lower-middle-class stock—and he was constantly at pains to demonstrate his loyalty. This led to many diplomatic fiascos (such as that when Ribbentrop, after presenting his credentials to the king of England, gave a Nazi salute) and ultimately cost him his life at Nuremberg. Weitz succeeds brilliantly in describing the atmosphere of the period and the social background of the events that defined the age. His portrayal of the Nazi hierarchy is remarkable in that he sees most of its members as spineless toadies without any ideology of their own—and Ribbentrop as an exemplar of the type. The Faustian elements of opportunism have rarely been so well defined. A splendid and horrifying romp through the culverts of modern history. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-62152-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992



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




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

Close Quickview