An easy-to-digest, somewhat pat overview of the media's influence on American history and politics. Streitmatter wrote this book from materials used in one of his classes on the media at American University in Washington, D.C. He has succeeded in producing a fine introductory textbook for a journalism class, but those wishing for a deep consideration of the press's impact will be disappointed. Fourteen key issues in American history and the media's influence on each are examined. Chapters end by emphasizing the media's important role in shaping events, usually for the good of society. Sometimes the praise is overwrought: Edward R. Murrow's newscasts were a ``valiant savior of the democratic way of life'' when they brought down Senator Joe McCarthy, a ``putrid presence.'' There is, admittedly, a certain satisfaction in stories of the press fighting evil, such as the manner in which Thomas Nast braved numerous threats as his biting cartoons in Harper's Weekly contributed to the downfall of Tammany Hall's infamously corrupt ``Boss'' Tweed. Similarly, there is a vindicating pleasure in reviewing Woodward and Bernstein's toppling of President Richard Nixon. But there are no great surprises here as Streitmatter reviews how Thomas Paine's Common Sense motivated colonists to rebel against England, or how Rush Limbaugh attempts to tip votes toward Republicans and create the ``Limbaugh Congress.'' Two chapters offer case studies of negative media influence. The first is the extremely popular, anti-Semitic radio broadcasts of Father Coughlin, and second is the early resistance to the women's rights movement. Left mostly unexplored is the way the media influence events while feigning objectivity, and what happens to the issues the media choose to ignore. For a deeper, more subtle analysis, readers will need to turn to scholars less enamored of the beneficent power of the press. (27 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8133-3210-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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