A savvy newsman's tellingly detailed report on the ruinous decline of IBM. Drawing on a wealth of inside sources, Wall Street Journal correspondent Carroll offers an unsparing account of a commercial juggernaut whose button-down culture, rigid bureaucracy, and complacent executives stifled development projects that could have ensured its dominance of the global computer industry well into the 21st century. In remarkably short order, in-house deficiencies and inroads made by nimbler rivals (Apple, Compaq, Intel, etc.) have reduced an erstwhile pacesetter to the status of a crippled colossus fighting for its very life in an increasingly unforgiving marketplace. As the author makes clear, moreover, Big Blue's downfall has caused widespread pain and harm. In addition to the economic costs borne by dismissed employees, host communities, suppliers, and investors, the US could lose a significant measure of its competitive edge in advanced technologies owing to appreciably lower research budgets at IBM. The principal virtue of Carroll's harsh reckoning is his chapter-and-verse fixing of blame for blunders that have combined to humble a once-mighty enterprise. Among other matters, he recounts how Big Blue (whose hierarchs stubbornly tried to protect the company's flagship franchise in lucrative but obsolescent mainframes) fumbled chances to open insurmountable leads in personal computers, PC software, laser printers, microprocessor chips, and allied products for which demand has proved brisk. Whether IBM's new stewards can plot a course that will let the debt-burdened leviathan regain anything remotely resembling its former eminence, much less profitability, remains a very open question for the author. Among other problems, he notes that layoffs and voluntary departures (spurred by attractive severance packages) have not only diminished but also demoralized the available pool of technical, sales, and management talent. Perceptive perspectives on computer errors of convulsive magnitude.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 1993

ISBN: 0-517-59197-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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