Women spies—often notoriously glamorous and driven as much by the thrills as the cause—have customarily used seduction to get what they want. Betty Pack, the subject of this latest biography by Lovell (The Sound of Wings, 1989; Straight on Till Morning, 1987), was a typical woman spy. Not so typical, though, was the significance of her accomplishment. Acknowledged as responsible for providing some of the most important British communications intelligence of WW II, the American-born Pack was a woman ``who took life as she found it, happily meeting challenge after challenge head-on, no matter what the consequences of the collision.'' Described as the most beautiful debutante of the Washington season, she was married at 19 to Arthur Pack, a British diplomat who had impregnated her. The child's birth was kept a secret for many years as Pack, a ``dreadful parent,'' let her son be reared by a foster family in England. Her espionage activities began while stationed in Civil War Spain and continued when her husband was transferred to Poland, where she seduced a top-ranking Pole from whom she learned details of the German Enigma code-machine. Her most significant triumphs, though, came in Washington. There, she seduced and turned an Italian admiral, as well as a Vichy French diplomat from whom she obtained ciphers that gave the Allies vital information about enemy movements. Loyal but unreflective, Pack had methods that were daring and unorthodox—her after-hours nude appearance at the French Embassy so stunned a suspicious nightwatchman that he fled, facilitating the opening of the safe holding the ciphers. Pack's life in France after the war was poignantly anticlimactic; she began writing her memoirs, but died in 1963 from cancer before they were complete. Solid research and tribute paid where due, though Pack, despite all the glamorous and daring things she did, and despite Lovell's best efforts, never quite comes alive here. Disappointing. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-394-57556-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1992

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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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