Eighteen elegant essays harvested from Hamburger's (An American Notebook, etc.) nearly 50 years as a New Yorker staff writer. These vivid pieces, many tinged with wry humor, focus on the genteel and urbane--from lengthy profiles of Oscar Hammerstein, Dean Acheson, and New York Public Library President Vartan Gregorian ("". . .he didn't walk over to greet me--he bounced over, rapidly, with short, rolling movements"") to short and precise portraits of Max Ernst, Harry Truman, and others to a few evocative travel essays (the best: a journey to Argentina, where Hamburger meets Eva Peron, a ""young, hard, fanatical queen"" who offered a hand that was ""stone cold""). With its warm introductory reminiscence of fellow New Yorker luminaries (William Shawn, Brendan Gill, etc.), this collection rewards.