Englishman Ford (Middle East correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor) travels by sea and by foot along the Caribbean coastline from Belize to Panama in this cool-blooded exploration of the convoluted culture and history of the Miskito Coast. The origin of Central America's Miskito Indians, and of their name itself, has long been lost in the tangle of liaisons between conqueror and conquered, native and newcomer along this particular stretch of Caribbean beach. Largely insulated from traditional Latin American culture by thick jungles, poor or nonexistent roads, and a lack of natural resources that distant governments found worth taking, the inhabitants of the Miskito Coast today, Ford finds, suggest a fascinating if unsettling mixture of African, English, French, West Indian, Spanish, and Indian influences. When not being used by the CIA to revolt against the Sandinistas or requested by visitors to reminisce once again about the days of the last Miskito king, coastal residents live according to a slow, fatalistic rhythm that here often drives Ford wild with impatience. Boat connections are missed while Ford fights a battle for proper immigration papers; a Nicaraguan guide gets lost and leads him to a hostile coast-guard station in Costa Rica; the Panamanian police order him out of the country without explanation, abruptly ending Ford's journey as he flies directly home. In short, if traditional Central American culture has not found its way unadulterated to this insulated coast, its bureaucracy has—less of a surprise, certainly, than Ford's inability to adapt, after six years as a journalist in Latin America, to inept treatment at the hands of his bored or frightened governmental hosts. A tale of terminal incompatibility—short on introspection, but sporadically entertaining nonetheless. (Maps.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-670-82827-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991



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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