A thorough, impressive tour of imperial London a century ago and of the dissenting voices that finally helped the sun set on this bastion of Eurocentrism. History professor Schneer (Georgia Institute of Technology) lets readers view the grimy streets, polished offices, and dockside warehouses of old London, as well as the hearts and minds of its elitist, racist denizens. History’s greatest empire, controlling 400 million people, was governed from a metropolis of 6 million, with a vast port and financial center. Yet while the horns of African rhinos and skins of Canadian seals piled up alongside mineral and material wealth taken in “tribute” from the West Indies, South Africa, Australia, India, etc., Schneer produces those who defied the “continual barrage of imperialist propaganda.” Beginning with half a million Irish and swelled by eastern and central Europeans, Jews, and Asians, there were sufficient foreigners and people of color to bristle at the exotic, caged “darkie” and animal spectacles and to join liberals, unionists, and early feminists who fought the many injustices of Britannia. Schneer documents the battles of several individuals who saw beyond the profits of near-slave labor on Chinese railroads, Latin American sugarcane fields, African mines, Borneo rubber plantations, and Ceylonese tea farms. Just as Ben Tillet’s Stevedores Union took on London shipping, Lord George Hamilton “did not believe that Indians should serve as cannon fodder” as conflicts beside the Boer War flared. A cultural hero and pioneer of anthropological relativism was Mary Kingsley, who explored deepest Africa and shockingly concluded that blacks are different, not inferior. Schneer’s masterful work reminds us how far we—ve come in our ongoing Copernican revolution to prove that the globe doesn—t revolve around white English-speaking men. (40 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-300-07625-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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 20, 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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