Readers who find Robert A. Caro's LBJ too Manichaean can turn to this hefty study (first of a projected two volumes), which covers the life and career of the young politico-in-a-hurry through the 1960 election. UCLA historian Dallek (Ronald Reagan, 1984; The American Style of Foreign Policy, 1983) believes that Johnson's current low esteem (a 1988 Harris poll ranked him at or near the bottom of 11 categories among recent Presidents) reflects one-dimensional portraits that highlight his pettiness and slight his tremendous achievements. In Dallek's view, LBJ was a ``liberal nationalist'' who consistently backed laws that boosted the fortunes of America's disadvantaged, as well as ``the greatest [Senate] Majority Leader in American history.'' This biography supplements Caro's in several crucial respects, including fuller discussions of LBJ's early, albeit halting, efforts on behalf of blacks, and of the rough-and- tumble Texas political wars, including Johnson's disputed 1948 Senate race (conservative opponent Coke Stevenson is not, in this telling, the good government pillar of Means of Ascent). Yet Dallek sometimes belabors the obvious in detailing Johnson's legislative wizardry (the founding of NASA, the first civil-rights act since Reconstruction, the indispensable bipartisan aid for Eisenhower's foreign policy). Solid if redundant on Johnson's sterling legislative record, but nowhere as brilliant as Caro in depicting LBJ's almost demonic energy. For that reason, despite its balance and careful research, it may be, as Dallek hopes, ``the scholarly biography of Johnson for the foreseeable future,'' but certainly isn't the most readable or vivid one. (Thirty b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-19-505435-0

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

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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