Extremely broad, frustratingly shallow.



A stroll through the history of some food taboos that have caught the author's fancy, loosely organized around the seven deadly sins.

With much enthusiasm and a generous spirit of inclusion, Allen (The Devil’s Cup, 1999) has rooted around in the annals of food lore to turn up an overwhelming number of sketches, historical vignettes, and general information about foods that have been considered “sinful” in some way, by someone, somewhere. Allen's anecdotes run the gamut, from “the politics of the baguette” to an exploration of folks who like to eat clay to the author's personal experience with a bottle of 1898 Absinthe. Ostensibly organized around the seven deadly sins, the numerous two- or three-page vignettes are, in fact, most tenuously linked; even the dishes on the menus that introduce each chapter seem to get swallowed up somewhere in the heaps of facts about more or less obscure comestibles. But the author's got a mercifully light touch, a finely tuned ear for a story, and an enthusiastic pitch, giving a potentially dry discussion the essence of cocktail conversation—frothy, informative, and fast. One can hear partygoers chatting about the culture of dog-eating around the world, or how an ancient Moon Goddess struck down her worshippers for having bad breath. Not everyone can take an anecdote about a White Supremacist and turn it into a whimsical musing on the history of “bean baiting.” In fact, Allen has done some respectable research (documented in a bibliography over 20 pages long). Unfortunately, without an organizing principle that can draw the reader through the pages, Allen's abundance of work and talent seems mostly squandered.

Extremely broad, frustratingly shallow.

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-44015-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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



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

Did you like this book?


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?