THE LAST BEST HOPE OF EARTH

ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA

Smoothly written and solidly researched biography by Pulitzer- winning historian Neely (Saint Louis University; The Fate of Liberty, 1991, etc.—not reviewed) that focuses particularly on the moral dilemmas and accomplishments of Lincoln during his presidency and years in public office. Opting to view his subject strictly as an adult rather than in his formative years, Neely also presents a public rather than a private Lincoln, accenting the political abilities that took him first to the Illinois legislature as a Whig in 1834. An expansionist in favor of economic growth and of building his state's infrastructure, Lincoln gave little thought then to the issue of slavery that would come to dominate his career. But after a term in the House of Representatives and a period of diminished political activity, he joined the new Republican Party to run strongly against Stephen Douglas, painting him as a co-conspirator in an imaginary plot to expand slavery to all territories and states (and showing competence in devious methods of voter manipulation as well). Elected President in 1860, Lincoln quickly took charge as commander-in-chief, making up for his lack of military expertise by keeping a firm hand on his generals while pressing them to take the initiative when appropriate. A believer in the colonization of freed slaves rather than racial equality, he nevertheless pushed forward with his Emancipation Proclamation as an essential first step, while at the same time adopting measures temporarily limiting civil liberties in order to draft enough soldiers to win the war. A challenging perspective on one of America's cherished heroes, depicting Lincoln as a consummate politician, more determined than scrupulous, without diminishing the magnitude of his achievements. (One hundred illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-674-51125-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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