An ambitious travel account that offers scant descriptions of an incredible adventure.




A poet follows in the footsteps of Alexander the Great in this memoir.

In 1998, Johnson (Don’t Search, Celebrate!, 2017), along with his Swiss girlfriend Marianne, set out to retrace the legendary journey of the ancient king of Macedonia Alexander the Great. In his introduction, the author reveals a vague desire “to experience, like Alexander, the land he passed through.” But other than wanting to learn “what the land feels like,” Johnson does not go into detail about the couple’s motivations for the trip. Part 1 of this series of travel memoirs records their trek through six countries: Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Along the way, they stopped at key historical sites, including the Parthenon, Palmyra, and the Great Pyramid at Giza. Each chapter takes the name of the destination visited and opens with a brief itinerary followed by a narrative and photographs. The author’s rushed “we did this/we did that” approach lacks the necessary descriptive embellishments to transport readers. For example, Johnson remarks that the Parthenon is “arguably, the most important ancient monument in the Western world” but spends fewer than five short pages describing the site, with a focus on banalities: “A reasonably priced sandwich shop provides food. Next door is a currency exchange and a closed POST (office). A local dog vomits in front of us while we eat and shortly consumes its vomit.” To capture the experience, the author relies on his and Marianne’s photos, which are standard holiday snapshots with Johnson or his girlfriend often posing in the foreground. But his blunt honesty should appeal to readers—he is unafraid to describe even his most uncomfortable trials: “Tuesday morning is worse. Explosive diarrhea at 11:15 am soils my pants.” Unfortunately, he sometimes provides mere field notes from an intrepid journey, yet to be developed into a full-fledged book. The author leaves too many questions unanswered. For the uninitiated, he neglects to sufficiently describe who Alexander the Great was and why he embarked on his voyage. More importantly, readers will be left wondering what it truly feels like to tour these domains today—the key aspect of the odyssey Johnson intended to discover and convey.

An ambitious travel account that offers scant descriptions of an incredible adventure.

Pub Date: March 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-976392-63-4

Page Count: 212

Publisher: The Einstein Academy

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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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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