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A we-have-met-the-enemy-and-he-is-us tract that, for all its evenhanded approach to an obvious dilemma, appears as likely to attract bipartisan opprobrium as to spark a debate on the overburdened state of the union. Drawing mainly on anecdotal evidence gathered in or around his Washington, D.C., base, Rauch (Kindly Inquisitors, 1993, etc.) asserts that demosclerosis is ``the most serious single challenge to the long-term vitality of democratic government.'' In his unsparing lexicon, he defines this condition as the progressive paralysis of the domestic body politic (manifested in an inability to solve new problems, experiment, or even adapt to socioeconomic change). Fiscal arteries clog owing to the successful claims varied interest groups (able to enforce their will with votes and financial support) make upon the US Treasury for benefits or subsidies, most notably, perhaps, tax breaks. While the author does not quarrel with the notion of a federal government responsive to the electorate's needs as well as wishes, he deplores the havoc wrought by trade organizations and single-issue constituencies that have prevailed on the government to transfer or redistribute resources according to the dictates of special-purpose agendas. An equal-opportunity critic, Rauch cites cases in point, ranging from business associations (convinced their industries are pillars of the republic) through advocates of arguably worthy causes, e.g., campaign reform, the elderly, environmental protection, family farms, and even homeless veterans (whose coalition has an annual operating budget that tops $500,000). From an economic standpoint, he cautions, retaining lobbyists to tap the public till is no more productive (albeit no less lucrative) than hiring thieves to steal cars. Conceding the proliferation of entitlement programs is probably not fatal, the author nonetheless offers a full measure of containment proposals. His eventual conclusion: demosclerosis is a systemic disorder that, at best, can be managed, not cured. A savvy reckoning of the cost of the zero-sum games the American people play.

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8129-2257-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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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

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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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