In his preface, veteran British journalist Fox expresses distaste for ``that otiose and overrated literary form, the finely written travelogue''—and certainly this earnest work evokes few of the sensate pleasures and chance discoveries that enliven that genre. Instead, it's a rather dry and often disturbing chronicle, drawn from journeys taken between 1984 and 1987, of the historical development, present turmoil, and likely future upheavals locked within each of the restless nations bordering the Mediterranean. ``The Mediterranean is an untidy place with an untidy past,'' Fox says. Historically divided into small, often warring independent tribes that were forced into political nation-states only relatively recently, the people of the Middle East, Yugoslavia, and Italy now appear increasingly determined to return to some version of their previous tribal structure. Fox cites as explanation for this collapse of confidence in the political status quo the increasing social and psychological strain of an exploding and increasingly young population in the southern Mediterranean countries (half the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza was under age 16 by 1990); an environmentally catastrophic increase in tourism (projected to rise from eighty million to two- hundred million annually by 2025) and in pollution from cargo ships and untreated human sewage; and current governments' demonstrated ineffectiveness in combating Mafia-style organized crime. Fox's conclusion—that the southern Mediterranean's ancient and often fanatical criminal organizations, religious cults, and other tribal units (most now armed with 20th-century weapons) are likely to spread as southern populations grow while the more prosperous northern populations shrink and get old—is disquieting, if hardly surprising. Bitter medicine: good for the reader, but not easy going down.

Pub Date: May 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-57452-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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