The image of Dubcek as an apostle of freedom, humanism and liberalization is tarnished by this political biography, probably more so than Shawcross, an East European correspondent for the London Sunday Times, intended. Shawcross maintains that Dubcek rose above the party apparatus to challenge Novotny and precipitate the 1968 thaw, but defends Dubcek's silence during the '50's Slansky purges by claiming he was only a middle-rank bureaucrat who kept clean of the affair and thus remained "innocent." While Dubcek has steadfastly maintained the correctness of his liberalization policies (largely patterned after Khrushchev's thaws), Shawcross indicates that Dubcek earlier thwarted those reforms (especially economic ones) and except on the subject of the invasion has refused to air any criticisms of the U.S.S.R. Shawcross fails to dissect the nation's industrial and agricultural travails, in which Dubcek played a significant part (the inflation-ridden collapse of Ota Sik's "Libermanism" and the dissolution of party authority on the local levels which contributed to the spring upsurge). The Czech philosopher Ivan Svitak, among others, has already pointed out that Dubcek was hardly a single-handed vanguard liberalizer. From 1969 interviews, Shawcross has, however, gathered valuable material on Dubcek's early years. Dubeck's father was an American Socialist Party member who returned to Czechoslovakia in 1921, the year of Alexander's birth, and joined the Communist Party. Dubcek spent his childhood in Russia, the war years in the Czech underground. Three additional years, 1955-58, were devoted to the Higher Party School in Moscow. Many of the details are new and they provide considerable insight into Dubcek's behavior and the bureaucratization of Communist militants in general. These are the features which will draw readers and researchers, not the book's standard Prague Spring narrative, or Shawcross's conclusion that Dubcek "continues to be a hope for the socialist future of Czechoslovakia.

Pub Date: April 1, 1971

ISBN: 0671208411

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1971

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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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