Superb prose and research overcome occasional hagiography and political posturing.

The debut biography of a once-famed American World War I fighter pilot.

The story of Kiffin Yates Rockwell (1892-1916)—an American member of the French Foreign Legion, a pursuit pilot, and a war hero—begins, in attorney Trapp’s lengthy telling, long before the man was born. In fact, it starts with Rockwell’s earliest known ancestor in the area around Caen, France, in medieval times. Trapp goes on to trace Rockwell’s family tree, which included soldiers and preachers, up to and including the American Civil War and the birth of Rockwell’s parents. From there, the story of Rockwell and his brother, Paul, focuses on their patriotic principles, which led them to volunteer for duty in the French Foreign Legion in 1914, when the United States was officially neutral. Paul transferred to a noncombat unit due to ill health, but Rockwell joined the aviation service and, eventually, the all-volunteer Lafayette Escadrille, in which he shot down several German planes before being killed in battle at the age of 24. Trapp describes the arc of Rockwell’s life in detailed and, at times, exhausting measure. However¸ the author’s masterful prose, coupled with impressive research—there are more than 120 pages of footnotes—offers verisimilitude and colorful insights. Not everything works as it should, though; despite Trapp’s early claim that the book isn’t hagiography, his admiration for his subject borders on the obsequious. This is especially true in the first 100 pages or so, in which descriptions of Rockwell’s ancestry overflow with testaments to their intellectual, moral, and financial prowess. The author also displays a fascination with men’s heights, which are listed for most males who appear in the narrative. Toward the end, Trapp indulges in repeating several clichés about millennials who, in his view, fail to measure up to the patriotic virtues of men of Rockwell’s era. Still, despite these flaws, this book presents a compelling narrative of a principled man who gave everything he had in pursuit of his ideals.

Superb prose and research overcome occasional hagiography and political posturing.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73317-122-9

Page Count: 712

Publisher: System D Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2020



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




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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