Disraeli (1804-81) was an outsider who cultivated the art of letters as successfully as he practiced the craft of politics. Here, Weintraub (Arts and Humanities/Pennsylvania State University; Long Day's Journey into War, 1991, etc.) meticulously traces the British PM's life and personae. Son of a minor literary antiquarian, Disraeli—partly because, as a Jew, he was excluded from most other professions—began at age 21 to write social and political novels. Mysterious, prodigal, and theatrical, he cultivated a Byronic style as a womanizer and dandy, even undertaking a tour of the Mideast. His charm and charisma helped him overcome the many barriers to public office, and, in 1868, he became PM and confidant to the enfeebled Queen Victoria, permitting him, as he put it, to hold the ``top of the greasy pole'' as the leader of England during its imperial age. Unable to accomplish domestic reform in Parliament, he expressed his radicalism in his many influential novels, especially Coningsby (1844), Sybil (1845), and Tancred (1847), evoking the horrid conditions of the poor, the ineffectualness of the law, the irrelevance of the aristocracy, and the spiritual poverty of the Church. In his unique aphoristic style, Disraeli claimed to ``live for Power and the Affections,'' finding love among many women; marrying, in order to escape debt, a 40-ish widow 12 years his senior; reputedly fathering two illegitimate children; and flirting with a whole series of women when, in his 60s, he was at the height of his political power. ``Somehow,'' Weintraub says, ``England survived Disraeli's separation from reality.'' With erudition and zest, Weintraub explains the byzantine nature of 19th-century politics, the significance of Disraeli's Jewishness, and the relation between the fiction and reality. But the inner life eludes him—just as it seems to have eluded Disraeli. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93668-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1993

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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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