THE TRUE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE

The late anthropologist Sophie Coe, who was assisted by her husband, an authority on pre-Columbian civilizations, in the writing of the book, took her culinary history seriously, thank you: This is no chat-fest presented for the benefit of Godiva- gobblers. Instead, the Coes track a prudent and punctilious path through chocolate's beginnings in ancient Meso-America; its transformation during the age of empire and Spanish colonization; its dispersal across Europe; and chocolate's more recent incarnation at ``Hershey, the Chocolate Town,'' a Disney-esque, sweet-toothed theme park in Hershey, Penn., and headquarters of one of the world's leading chocolate manufacturers. Along the way, readers learn about the chemistry of chocolate and survey sundry recipes; appreciate its many ethnic varieties (the Aztecs preferred theirs mixed with ground chilies, ``anywhere from mildly pungent to extremely hot''); and probe its social symbolism, first for elites, and now for the rest of us. Drawbacks of the Coes' approach include a plethora of detail, some of it unnecessarily dry, and excessive stretches of information unrelieved by humanizing anecdote. But the lore they offer also includes pleasantly bemusing facts and speculations, such as those surrounding chocolate's etymology. Called ``cacahuatl'' for a time by Spaniards who encountered it in the New World, the word—and the substance—may have actually raised their hackles: ``It is hard to believe that the Spaniards were not thoroughly uncomfortable with a noun beginning with caca to describe a thick, dark brown drink which they had begun to appreciate. They desperately needed some other word.'' A carefully researched biography of chocolate as a pleasure and a product. (100 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-500-01693-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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