The strenuously chipper tone grates, but it makes a refreshing change from the overseriousness of some restaurant critics.




A chatty, episodic history of eating out from British food writer Sitwell.

Ranging from the Roman Empire to “The Future of Eating Out,” the author, food critic for the Telegraph, favors an anecdotal approach that should please readers of A History of Food in 100 Recipes. Sitwell’s preference for good stories over coherent narrative is evident in early chapters on the Ottoman Empire and legendary Moroccan globe-trotter Ibn Battuta, which don’t describe anything modern diners would think of as restaurants. An interesting chapter about medieval England, where food stalls in busy markets moved indoors to become cook shops and eventually sit-down restaurants, is followed by “The Coffee House Revolution,” more focused on socializing and talking politics than eating. Sitwell gets back to restaurants with “The French Revolution,” which reveals that Paris became a hotbed of fine dining because private chefs for the aristocracy opened restaurants there after their masters lost their heads during the Reign of Terror. From “the first modern-day celebrity chef” (Marie-Antoine Carême) on, the author trots through material familiar to historically minded foodies: the impact of the gas stove, the ghastliness of postwar British dining; the 1967 arrival in London of authentic French cuisine at Le Gavroche, which fueled a subsequent explosion in great British cooking by chefs trained there; the fresh, locally sourced revolution led by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in San Francisco; the outsize influence of restaurant guides; and the controversial rise of molecular gastronomy. Sitwell seasons the narrative with some intriguingly offbeat fare: the transition of Britannia & Co. in Bombay from dishing out comfort food to British imperialists to serving Parsi delicacies to Indians; the question of “the cultural appropriation of food” as embodied in a taco-frying machine patented by a Mexican immigrant and carried to global domination by Taco Bell; the conveyer belt in a crowded Japanese restaurant that ultimately moved sushi around the world and spawned the ecological catastrophe of industrial fishing.

The strenuously chipper tone grates, but it makes a refreshing change from the overseriousness of some restaurant critics.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63576-699-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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