Delivers some tense moments but never fulfills its initial promise.

An immersion journalist’s ill-conceived quest to illegally cross the Mexican border into the United States.

Although the banal title fails to capture the inherent danger of the task, former Army infantryman and Penthouse contributor Rico (Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green: A Year in the Desert with Team America, 2007) spends the first few chapters prepping the reader for hair-raising adventure. With the guidance of “coyotes”—mercenary guides who help illegal aliens cross the border—the author planned to put himself at risk and cross the border in the same covert, desperate fashion that hundreds of Mexicans attempt every day. Initially presented as a gesture of empathy for the poor souls trying to escape poverty-ridden Mexico, Rico’s quest never quite transcends narcissistic stunt journalism. The author orchestrates a dramatic buildup to his undertaking with foreboding stories of northern Mexico’s notorious Devil’s Highway and the deadly Los Zetas paramilitary group. But as Rico and his battered rental car sped along the U.S.-Mexico border to find an ideal illegal entry point, his biggest nemeses were curious cops and nosy border patrolmen. However, the author does offer objective profiles of the “Minutemen” near San Diego—vigilante civilian border patrollers with their own primitive means of curtailing illegal immigration. In Juarez, Rico made compelling notes of the city’s desperate poverty and the important ways in which it differs from sister city El Paso, Texas, but he’s self-conscious among the American aid workers—privileged college graduates who shucked their expensive degrees to help the poor—and betrays a hint of jealousy and contempt for these slumming do-gooders. Finally, after paranoia-induced acid flashbacks, constant hassles from the authorities and nonstop driving, Rico’s project began to take its toll. His final stab at crossing the border is unforgivably lame compared to the grand Lawrence of Arabia–style adventure he envisioned.

Delivers some tense moments but never fulfills its initial promise.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-345-50383-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009



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

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