Wood delivers a bold travelogue, illuminating great swathes of modern Africa, but as literature, it leaves something to be...

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WALKING THE NILE

Walking the Nile has enticed many explorers, but Wood provides an up-to-the-minute portrait of the nations and people that claim the world’s longest river.

From the moment the author began his journey, at the alleged source of the Nile, he encountered constant conflict and hardship. His guides mistrusted each other. So-called pygmies were reluctant to accept him. He had to fight through every border crossing, and he faced the constant threats of theft, disease, and corruption. Wood is a war veteran, and he was able to improvise his way through dangerous situations, such as firefights in a Sudanese city and an interrogation by secret police. But the trek was not without tragedy: when the author agreed to walk with American journalist Matt Power for a week, Power eventually collapsed and died of heat stroke. “I wanted the cold comfort of English skies again,” writes Wood. “I wanted to be anywhere but here, thinking of the man who had died so that he could write about me on my indulgent, pointless, selfish trek.” Overall, Wood is a sharp observer and authoritative writer. He takes pains to describe the Rwandan conflict, the Egyptian revolution, the Sudanese civil war, and all the culture clashes in between. But chutzpah and empathy only get him so far. In the end, the author is unable to adequately explain his interest in the Nile, and the book does feel indulgent at times. The story is awkwardly similar to Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, while lacking the immediacy of the Afghan context. Unlike Stewart, Wood accumulated media coverage as he went. By the time he reached the Aswan Dam, he was carrying an article chronicling his passage. This kind of publicity recalls the newspaper frenzy of the Stanley-Livingstone expedition. For adventurers like Wood and Stanley, the Nile is a metaphor as much as a place.

Wood delivers a bold travelogue, illuminating great swathes of modern Africa, but as literature, it leaves something to be desired.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2449-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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