Good fun, though best taken in small bites; the chatty tone can be cloying in large amounts.



British food writer/editor Sitwell explores shifting tastes and styles in cooking through individual dishes.

The author begins in the second millennia B.C. with a bread recipe, including an ancient Egyptian wall painting to illustrate the methods involved. The early recipes are quite vague; Sitwell notes that well into the 19th century, with fine cuisine limited to aristocratic mansions, published cookbooks were generally expositions of food philosophy by male chefs who “wouldn’t want [their] rivals to get hold of [their] kitchen secrets.” Cooking times began to appear during the Renaissance, and it was the influential Victorian manual for anxious wives Beeton’s Book of Household Management that popularized the practice of listing the ingredients separately from instructions. Mrs. Beeton’s roly-poly jam pudding (1861) joins a cavalcade of quintessentially British items, including “peas soope” (1669), but Sitwell gives ample space to such revered Frenchmen as Brillat-Savarin (stuffed roast pheasant, 1825) and Escoffier (peach Melba, 1903). No-nonsense Americans like Fannie Farmer (strawberry shortcake, 1896) and The Joy of Cooking’s Irma Rombauer (quick oatmeal cookies, 1931) also get their due, though Sitwell is dubious about modern shortcuts like microwaves and bagged salads. Virtually all the big names of the late-20th-century food revolution are here, from Alice Waters (plum tart, 1971) to Ferran Adrià (an extremely elaborate brioche with rose-scented mozzarella, 2008), as well as such mass-market stalwarts of the Food Network as Emeril Lagasse (pecan waffles, 1998) and Nigella Lawson (fairy cakes, 2000). Sitwell deftly inserts interesting tidbits ranging from the changes wrought by such appliances as refrigerators and gas stoves to the impact of online technology. Indeed, the recipes are basically an excuse for the history, which is fine when the history is this engaging.

Good fun, though best taken in small bites; the chatty tone can be cloying in large amounts.

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22997-5

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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