Search Results: Robert Wachter


BOOK REVIEW

NONFICTION
Released: Feb. 4, 2004

"Delineates a serious problem and sounds a clear call to action."
Despite its alarmist subtitle, a thoughtful analysis of why medical errors happen, with concrete proposals for improving the safety of patients. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

SAILING TO AMERICA by Robert Gernhardt
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2018

"For children who leap before they look, an adventure of a dog on a boat in a book. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Five lively dogs and a not-so-far-away adventure take center stage in this rhyming picture book. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

TRISH TRASH ROLLERGIRL OF MARS by Jessica Abel
Released: Nov. 15, 2016

"It's a bit too ambitious, but readers should find it intriguing enough to be hopeful about subsequent volumes. (Graphic science fiction. 12 & up)"
Living on Mars, an adolescent girl dreams of leaving her farm and joining the hoverderby. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

NON-FICTION
Released: Aug. 5, 2014

"Astutely analyzed but dryly written. Not exactly a knee-slapper for the general reading public, though its insights will find their ways into the mainstream media."
Political humor on late-night TV is serious business, as three academics show in this study. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

THE MOUNTAINS OF MY LIFE by Walter Bonatti
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 9, 2001

"Ably translated and edited by Australian climber Marshall, this will be of great interest to mountaineering buffs, and to armchair adventurers generally."
Well-made compendium of adventures—and misadventures—on some of the world's highest peaks. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

ADVENTURE
Released: March 1, 1998

Burleigh (Hoops, p. 1386, etc.) retells Admiral Richard Byrd's successful six-month, one-man Antarctic encampment in a picture book aimed at an older audience. In 1934, Byrd was determined to learn how an individual could withstand the harshness—and loneliness—of the Antarctic night. Burleigh's spare prose eloquently captures the spartan surroundings in which Byrd conducted daily meteorological studies with only a flashlight, a lantern, and a small gas lamp against constant darkness and temperatures of -60¯F. Passages lifted from Byrd's daily journal are a testament to his convictions, and Krudop's illustrations starkly reflect the subtle play of light against the dark, icy landscape. While Byrd ultimately survived an illness to welcome a relief crew, his story is severe, often depressing, and always riveting. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-11) Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

SOMETHING IN VALLARTA by Robert Richter
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

A first novel following an expatriate American, hiding from the draft and regular employment, through a lazily unspooling reel of intrigue in 1972 Mexico. When his money dwindles, Cotton Waters, late of sleepy Lo De Marcos, comes up for air in the richer, murkier waters of Puerto Vallarta, looking for some fast gringo bucks to finance another year in his village. Like a sinister jack-in-the-box, a pretty-boy drinking buddy named Ramon pops up to steer him into the clutches of scuzzy film mogul Johnny Finch, who offers him $500 (``a small fortune'') to tail beautiful, wayward Yancy De Line for a few days. Seems that the neighbors' niece, Judith Tramman, has been putting ideas into Yancy's head—trips along the coast together, Yancy's unlikely affair with Prof. Frank Chambers—and Finch wants to know just how far this declaration of independence has gone. His brain aswirl with Out of the Past notions of forbidden romance, Cotton sets his sights on Yancy's Mercedes and climbs into Finch's Karmann Ghia—and into a sucker role he won't figure out for a hundred long pages, until the bushwhacking of his inoffensive sidekick El Cuate awakens him to his danger (suddenly he realizes he could rot in a Mexican jail) and makes him vow revenge on Finch and his toadies. Add a dose of the standard south-of-the-border plot twists—drugs, gunplay, sunken treasure, and plenty of friendly, helpful, no-questions-asked natives—before Cotton settles back into the shoals of village life. Well-worn storytelling with a nostalgic counterculture feel, all as comfortable as your old pair of Weejuns. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

NON-FICTION
Released: June 14, 1991

An exhaustive study of the changes that have occurred in prime-time TV from the mid-1950's to the mid-1980's. Although the authors—two directors of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. (the Lichters), and a Smith College professor of government (Rothman)—fail to come up with much in the way of breakthrough revelations, their survey gives a clear picture of the way in which depictions of women, minorities, sexual and criminal behavior, and other topics have altered over the years. Few of the findings—that women have been portrayed as growing ever-more independent; that blacks have increasingly been viewed as individuals rather than as stereotypes; that sexual behavior has become less inhibited on the TV screen—will come as a surprise. In tracing the overall patterns that have emerged through the three decades, however, the authors show how TV comedies and dramas have reflected attitudes prevalent in the wider world. Thus, the blandness of the Eisenhower years and the hysteria of the McCarthy era found expression in shows as divergent as Ozzie and Harriet and I Led Three Lives. In a similar way, the rebellious Seventies produced such comedies as M.A.S.H. and All in the Family, both of which aimed to provide insights into contemporary issues along with the laughs. The authors' investigations into TV's attitudes toward big business are especially revealing. They find, for example, that businessmen ``carry out one-fifth of all crimes and over one-third of the murders committed by census-coded characters.'' As the authors say, ``The gray flannel suit represents a very deadly member of the establishment,'' in prime time at any rate. Much that is obvious, then, but with enough fresh insights to keep the reader involved. Read full book review >

ARCHIVE

SOMETHING IN VALLARTA by Robert Richter
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

A first novel following an expatriate American, hiding from the draft and regular employment, through a lazily unspooling reel of intrigue in 1972 Mexico. When his money dwindles, Cotton Waters, late of sleepy Lo De Marcos, comes up for air in the richer, murkier waters of Puerto Vallarta, looking for some fast gringo bucks to finance another year in his village. Like a sinister jack-in-the-box, a pretty-boy drinking buddy named Ramon pops up to steer him into the clutches of scuzzy film mogul Johnny Finch, who offers him $500 (""a small fortune"") to tail beautiful, wayward Yancy De Line for a few days. Seems that the neighbors' niece, Judith Trainman, has been putting ideas into Yancy's head—trips along the coast together, Yancy's unlikely affair with Prof. Frank Chambers—and Finch wants to know just how far this declaration of independence has gone. His brain aswirl with Out of the Past notions of forbidden romance, Cotton sets his sights on Yancy's Mercedes and climbs into Finch's Karmann Ghia—and into a sucker role he won't figure out for a hundred long pages, until the bushwhacking of his inoffensive sidekick El Cuate awakens him to his danger (suddenly he realizes he could rot in a Mexican jail) and makes him vow revenge on Finch and his toadies. Add a dose of the standard south-of-the-border plot twists—drugs, gunplay, sunken treasure, and plenty of friendly, helpful, no-questions-asked natives—before Cotton settles back into the shoals of village life. Well-worn storytelling with a nostalgic counterculture feel, all as comfortable as your old pair of Weejuns. Read full book review >

ARCHIVE

Released: June 14, 1991

An exhaustive study of the changes that have occurred in prime-time TV from the mid-1950's to the mid-1980's. Although the authors—two directors of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. (the Lichters), and a Smith College professor of government (Rothman)—fail to come up with much in the way of breakthrough revelations, their survey gives a clear picture of the way in which depictions of women, minorities, sexual and criminal behavior, and other topics have altered over the years. Few of the findings—that women have been portrayed as growing ever-more independent; that blacks have increasingly been viewed as individuals rather than as stereotypes; that sexual behavior has become less inhibited on the TV screen—will come as a surprise. In tracing the overall patterns that have emerged through the three decades, however, the authors show how TV comedies and dramas have reflected attitudes prevalent in the wider world. Thus, the blandness of the Eisenhower years and the hysteria of the McCarthy era found expression in shows as divergent as Ozzie and Harriet and I Led Three Lives. In a similar way, the rebellious Seventies produced such comedies as M.A.S.H. and All in the Family, both of which aimed to provide insights into contemporary issues along with the laughs. The authors' investigations into TV's attitudes toward big business are especially revealing. They find, for example, that businessmen ""carry out one-fifth of all crimes and over one-third of the murders committed by census-coded characters."" As the authors say, ""The gray flannel suit represents a very deadly member of the establishment,"" in prime time at any rate. Much that is obvious, then, but with enough fresh insights to keep the reader involved. Read full book review >

BOOK REVIEW

FICTION
Released: March 17, 1980

Two very short, very broad spoofs in picture-book format. The first is as clunkingly obvious as "great detective" Dr. Aramy's mistakes when he is called to a resort hotel to solve the mystery of a stolen pearl. Dr. Aramy constantly interrupts the lined-up staff members' accounts of incidents surrounding the pearl's disappearance, accusing each in turn on the basis of far-fetched conclusions, until he finally hits home with the manager, the only one left. The outlandish solutions proposed by famous ghost catcher Mr. Dibble in the second story are less hollow and a bit more ingenious, but still pretty creaky. At least his contraptions—involving a silver bell on a silken cord, a one-eared black cat, chicken fat and honey on the stairs, etc.—all work, and Bleek Manor's ghost eventually packs up. Quackenbush writes some extra jokes into the pictures, but overall his illustrations are so loud that they drown out the words—a fate that the first story deserves and the second is too weak to overcome. Read full book review >

ARCHIVE

Released: March 24, 1980

A colorful, if plodding account of five 19th-century strangers in paradise. Daws has a rich and perennially appealing subject, and he's done his homework on it, but both the individual biographies and the book as a whole meander instead of flowing, and buoy us up agreeably without taking us anywhere. As if groping for a solid unifying theme, Daws styles his characters ""Eminent Victorians of the South Seas,"" but there's nothing like Strachey's cynical indictment of an entire culture here. To be sure, the five lengthy sketches are placed against a broad (and somber) historical background—the foolish, frenzied, tragic age of colonialist adventure. This adequately sets off the pieces on Williams (a restless missionary who worked in Tahiti and Samoa before being murdered in the New Hebrides) and Gibson (a political troublemaker and demagogue active in Hawaii); but it gets only mediocre results with Stevenson and Gauguin, and fails completely with Melville. The Melville chapter, tediously slow-paced and full of irrelevant literary criticism, is by far the weakest. The others are pleasant, fully but unobtrusively documented, and sometimes quite engrossing. Daws ends with a marvelous symbolic encounter between Gauguin and a blind old woman in the Marquesas Islands. The woman, a dried-up, bent-over, tattooed apparition, completely naked, came hobbling up one evening to the artist's house. As he sat transfixed, she ran her clawlike hand all over his body and, grasping his penis, noticed it lacked the scars of supercision practiced by the Marquesans. "" 'Pupa,' she croaked—White Man,"" and scuttled off into the night. Lumpy, but nourishing fare. Read full book review >