This gripping study of ``mad cow disease'' by Rhodes (The Making of the Atomic Bomb, 1987, etc.) weaves careful research and powerful stories into a chilling narrative that often reads more like science fiction. Indeed, Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle gets credit for prescience at one point: The plot of that novel involves an aberrant form of ice crystal that freezes the oceans and brings about the end of life on earth. For ice crystal, read ``prion,'' the term coined by Stanley Prusiner, a California biochemist/neurologist, to describe a proteinaceous infectious particle that is thought to work by triggering the aberrant folding of a normal brain protein. The end result is fatty deposits in the brain, holes where nerve cells used to be, and, eventually, death. There is no cure. The scary thing about the TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, a generic term used to refer to several diseases generating this damage in humans and animals) is that they can be passed within, and sometimes across, species by the consumption of suspect tissues. (Many kinds of animal feed include ground-up animal parts.) Normal chemicals and heat treatment that inactivate DNA do not, for some reason, destroy TSE agents. Rhodes faults the British for being terribly slow to get started slaughtering infected herds and for failing to insure that farmers complied with new regulations for feed preparation. He goes on to assert that there is enough evidence to suggest that Americans may also fall victim to cross-species brain diseases: the animal TSEs exist here, and we are regularly exposed to a variety of products (milk, meat, gelatin) that may carry infection. Rhodes's argument, that suveillance and protection are needed as much as research, is persuasive. A powerful and alarming book. (First serial to Washington Post magazine; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection; author tour)

Pub Date: March 20, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-82360-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997



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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