The mysteries of human memory are deftly probed by Hilts, New York Times Washington correspondent on science and health policy (Scientific Temperaments, 1982, etc.). Hilts delves into the case of Henry M., who was left without a memory when drastic experimental brain surgery to relieve his epilepsy failed. Some 40 years after Henry's disastrous encounter with the surgeon's knife, researchers are still learning from his tragedy how the brain creates memories. Hilts came to know the gentle Henry as well as anyone can know a creature who lives only in the present moment. It's a fascinating account, made more so by Hilts's knack for finding concrete images, e.g., ``What . . . is now missing for Henry is the engine of memory which we use to catch the events of the world as they go by.'' Although Hilts notes that describing the mind's mysteries has been largely left to scientists who cannot express well what they know and to poets who can express well but know little, his own writing achieves a gracious balance between science and literature. He shares painful personal memories, and he seeks out articulate scientists to help him explain the biology and chemistry of memory. In addition, Hilts traces a kind of history of memoryfrom its precursors in the responses of simple animals to marks made on bone by early humans to Homer's catalogs of ships and warriors to Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. His conclusion, that memorythe central trait of the human mindis an act of construction, not of recording, and that memory's chief feature is its malleability, will afford little comfort to recovered memory therapists. Fans of Oliver Sacks will find much to savor here.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80356-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1995

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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

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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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