A charming tribute to food, drink and homeland.



Do not read this book on an empty stomach: The author lovingly describes so many exquisite-sounding Italian meals that those without immediate access to fresh mozzarella and artichokes will feel very sorry for themselves.

Esposito, the owner of Italian Wine Merchants in New York City, opens his debut memoir with an account of his idyllic childhood in the slums of Naples, where women lowered baskets from their balconies to buy the fish straight from the sea and grapes straight from the vine. His lifelong love affair with Italian food began in this gastronomic paradise, but his family was ripped from Naples in 1974, when he was still a child, and condemned to live in Albany, N.Y. Esposito writes heart-wrenchingly of their tearful adjustment to a new culture and cuisine (so-called). The pasta they ate in Italy, he writes, had been laid in the middle of the street, “so that the unique combination of Mediterranean and mountain winds would dry it in just the right way, to produce the perfect texture when it was boiled.” At his family’s first meal with their American cousins, the pasta was “mushy…like glue in my throat.” Still, it was in Albany that Esposito’s uncle shared his nightly glass of California red, launching an autodidact’s career dedicated to improving the reputation of Italian wines and revitalizing the flagging economy of traditional winemakers. Describing his travels through his native land, first as a student and then as a wine merchant, Esposito writes with such earnest enthusiasm that detailed accounts of winemakers purchasing different types of equipment are actually interesting. He reaches his poetic heights, however, in describing the food and vintages he consumed on each adventure. In one Roman restaurant, a southern white wine “smelled of apricots, white flowers, dried honey, nuts…[I] got the sensation that I was being seduced in a Pompeii brothel before the volcano erupted.”

A charming tribute to food, drink and homeland.

Pub Date: April 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2607-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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