In the News, August 2017
Posted 08.16.17: “Study your Corn Flakes in the morning and you may be hard pressed to see them as the product of high drama. But as biographer Howard Markel reveals, ferocious fraternal rivalries went into their creation. Markel's new book, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, vividly recounts the contentious story of two men behind the early 20th century's revolution in ready-to-eat foods…. The book is lively throughout as it delivers a tale both personal in its intensity and grand in its scope.”—Michael Upchurch, Chicago Tribune; “Markel, the author of three previous, well-received histories has, by reaching into a simple box of cornflakes, come up with a rich and satisfying account of the lives, work and enmity of two warring brothers and of a pivotal epoch in American history.”—Katherine A. Powers, Newsday
Posted 08.11.17: “The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, is a serious and in every way commendable book — in its painstaking research, its superb prose and storytelling, and most importantly, its energy and spirit…. Chapter by chapter, in one finely crafted paragraph after another, Markel holds your interest. The Kelloggs is a highly satisfying book, a cultural history in the best tradition of…how one seemingly incidental element of a period can illuminate a whole society and its shifting tastes and values.”—David Walton, The Dallas Morning News
Posted 08.01.17: Kirkus Reviews on Alan Pell Crawford's How Not to Get Rich: The Financial Misadventures of Mark Twain: "Crawford offers up a zesty financial biography of Twain the businessman, noting that his subject tried to be ‘an Edison as well as a Shakespeare.'... The author chronicles Twain's adventures as an entrepreneur, investor, and inventor; like a diligent accountant, he carefully itemizes Twain's wins and losses in today's monetary values, making them all the more shocking.… Fortunately, Twain was a ‘superb manager of his own image,' a talent that kept his family fed. Light and frothy, this humorous biography is a lively read."
Posted 07.20.17: “Mark Moyar's brilliant history of the United States's Special Operations Forces (SOF), Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America's Special Operations Forces, records their triumphs and failures…. Moyar draws some vital lessons on how to use them and, just as importantly, how not to.”—Henrik Bering in the Los Angeles Review of Books
Posted 07.12.17: A starred Kirkus Review for The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson: “An ingenious, always provocative analysis of history's most lethal war.”
Posted 07.11.17: Advance praise for The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson: "Compulsively readable."—Max Boot; "I couldn't put it down."—David Lehman; "A monumental history of World War II, surpassing all prior attempts."—Mark Moyar; "An eye-opener and a page-turner."—Paul A. Rahe
Posted 06.27.17: Siddhartha Mukherjee on Howard Markel's The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek: "Howard Markel's riveting, deeply researched new book covers vast territory: the saga of the squabbling Kellogg brothers (‘magnificent showmen, resolute empire builders, and unwavering visionaries'), their mass-branding of breakfast cereals, their concept of ‘wellness', and their enormous influence on the diet of millions of Americans. This book arrives at a pivotal moment in our own history when mass-marketing, showmanship and the media deserve particularly deep study. Markel's incandescent scholarship and his incisive analysis shine through this book. The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek can certainly be read as a biography of two visionaries (and their extended families), but it also deserves to be read as a case study by generations of future readers."
Posted 06.22.17: “A wise inquiry into an ‘erotic and yet transcendent' play. The uber-prolific Bloom now has his own book series: Shakespeare's Personalities. The first book explored Prince Hal's loyal friend, Falstaff, one of the Bard's most complex characters. Bloom continues to instruct and entertain with this in-depth look at the ‘most seductive woman in all of Shakespeare,' the Egyptian queen who describes herself as ‘fire and air.'… ‘Without the fierce sexuality that Cleopatra both embodies and stimulates in others,' writes Bloom, ‘there would be no play.'… He meticulously provides a close reading, quoting extensively as he examines the text. For him, the play is ‘a brilliant kaleidoscope, a montage of shifting fortunes, places, personalities, excursions into the empyrean.' Cleopatra ‘beguiles and she devastates,' and ‘no one else in Shakespeare is so metamorphic.'… His discussion of Shakespeare's ‘unique mastery at portraying the art of dying' is especially fascinating. A masterfully perceptive reading.”—Kirkus Reviews on Harold Bloom's forthcoming Cleopatra: I Am Fire and Air
Posted 06.15.17: “There are indeed many historical instances of special operations forces accomplishing astonishingly difficult, daring and successful raids. Nevertheless, Mark Moyar in his new book Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America's Special Operations Forces, gives us a stark reality check on the track record of success and effectiveness of these forces…. But the overriding reason to open the book at Page 1 and turn each one all the way to the end, is to get the full impact of the human story. For while this is a book about strategy, tactics, weapon systems, politics and policy, it is above all a story, or rather collection of stories, about the extraordinary individuals who have volunteered, trained, planned, executed, and bled for America and its allies in special operations…. Moyar gives us countless portraits of exceptional, flawed, skilled, and above all courageous soldiers, sailors, and airmen…. When we learn how a soldier died in a battle, it's not a cold, abstract statistic; we feel it in our gut and tears flow because we know him personally, even if only for a page…. Many books have been written about particular special operations services, units and/or missions. Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America's Special Operations Forces purports to be the first comprehensive history of its kind, putting all of the others under its contextual umbrella. With few flaws, it succeeds brilliantly in presenting a sweeping 100,000-foot view all the way down to ground, dirt, sweat and blood level. A must-read.” —Howard Hyde, The American Spectator
Posted 06.15.17: “Since 2002, poet and Best American Poetry series editor Lehman has been writing poems in honor of and in stylistic homage to other poets and literary figures. With a great sense of play, he has created poems that take the reader chronologically through his artistic influences. Many of these poems are humorous, some tongue-in-cheek in approach, but all are grounded in Lehman's extensive knowledge of poetry and his deep understanding of form and tradition…. Lehman's 'in the manner of' collection would be a fun component in both the study and teaching of poetry.... Lehman's 'astrological profiles' of Hamlet and Keats are at once original, witty, and downright brilliant." — Janet St. John, Booklist, on David Lehman's Poems in the Manner Of
Posted 06.12.17: Brinkley, Solomon, and Verghese on Howard Markel's forthcoming The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek: "An amazing American story!"—Douglas Brinkley; "A riveting read."—Andrew Solomon; "This tale comes alive. A fabulous read."—Abraham Verghese
Posted 05.17.17: A starred Booklist review for Howard Markel's forthcoming The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek: "Markel's amazing amalgamation of biography and history, covering the pursuit of health in late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America, industrialism, and the invention of cold cereals is adorned with fetching photographs and illustrations. Sibling rivalry has rarely been so dastardly and delectable."
Posted 05.10.17: In memoriam: Allan H. Meltzer, author of Why Capitalism?, "Allan H. Meltzer the great economist of monetary affairs who died Tuesday at age 89, was the consummate insider who understood the value of staying outside the government.... Meltzer made a distinguished career offering constructive criticism to the powers that be…. Meltzer was at the center of most of the great debates about the direction of U.S. economic policy…. His was a career born of deep and caring respect for the institutions of economic governance. Meltzer understood that economic decision-making is a powerful force in the life of nations, and he dedicated his life to ensuring that his profession performed that role with intellectual rigor and honesty for the public good."—Editorial in The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2017
Posted 05.10.17: Three terrific pre-pub. quotes on Howard Markel's forthcoming The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek: "In this rollicking tale of family intrigue and inventiveness, Howard Markel traces the lives of the Kellogg brothers, describing how they started the world down the path to packaged foods. This full exegesis of their unseemly personalities makes for a riveting read."—Andrew Solomon "The story of the Kellogg Brothers is the story of innovation, of determination, and the creation of a giant industry as American business came of age just prior to the Second World War. It is a tale of grit, controversy, faith and the emergence of the 'wellness' movement. In the hands of Markel, a trained historian, physician, seasoned writer and chronicler of America, this tale comes alive. A fabulous read."—Abraham Verghese "Markel's The Kelloggs recounts the incredible exploits of the amazing Kellogg Brothers—John and Will—who turned nineteenth-century medicine upside down for the better. Markel does a marvelous job recounting the birth of the Kellogg cereal empire and the Battle Creek sanitarium. An amazing American story!"—Douglas Brinkley
Posted 04.26.17: A starred Kirkus Review for Howard Markel's forthcoming The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek: “A dual biography of the highly successful Kellogg brothers, who ‘fought, litigated, and plotted against one another with a passion more akin to grand opera than the kinship of brothers.' One brother invented Corn Flakes, and the other was the most famous doctor of his time. They hated each other. Readers who suspect their lives might provide entertainment will not be disappointed by this delightful biography…. A superb warts-and-all account of two men whose lives help illuminate the rise of health promotion and the modern food industry.”
Posted 04.25.17: “Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America's Special Operations Forces will serve as an invaluable and highly readable overview of SOF's history not just for those newly joining its ranks but also for anyone who seeks to know more about these glamorous and little-understood forces…. Excellent.”—National Review on Mark Moyar's just published popular history of U.S. commando warfare.
Posted 04.25.17: An interesting thinking through Making It: 50th Anniversary Edition by Louis Menand in the May 1st New Yorker: “Making It is a book about what Norman Podhoretz, borrowing the term from Murray Kempton, calls the Family—the writers and editors, mostly but not exclusively Jewish, who dominated the New York intellectual scene in the decades after the war. It is as their proud product that Podhoretz presents himself, and he obviously hoped to retain the approval of these people, as he had done so often in the past, by daring to write something they were afraid to write. He believed that they would admire his courage, recognize the justice of his account, forgive any indiscretions he may have committed, and, freed at last from a stifling hypocrisy, embrace him and the book....” (Please read on at our book page link.)
Posted 04.21.17: Jeanette Winterson in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review on Harold Bloom's Falstaff: Give Me Life: "This book is an explanation and a reiteration of why Falstaff matters to Bloom, and why Falstaff is one of literature's vital forces. These two strands of argument cannot be separated. Bloom is not a thinker who tries to take himself out of the equation. As a teacher and a writer he has always wanted to make us feel something, as well as to understand something. Profoundly learned himself, his learning is a call to life — that we are, or can be, altered and enriched by what we know…. Bloom is always a pleasure to read — the language simple and direct, yet easily conveying complexity of thought…. Bloom's book is a timely reminder of the power and possibility of words."
Posted 04.13.17: David Lehman's Poems in the Manner Of reviewed in Publishers Weekly: "Lehman brings his expert eye and deep knowledge of the writers he mimics…. As Lehman writes in his introduction, the work embraces ‘homage, parody, imitation, and appropriation, or combinations of these four things.'… Lehman succeeds in the task he sets for himself. These renderings are a record of poetic engagement, a sort of autobiography of what has moved the author as well as a moving summary of the author's own development…. Therein lies the charm of this book: Lehman's blend of whimsy and gravitas, his ability to find pleasure in almost anything while still plumbing its depths."
Posted 04.04.17: Library Journal on Falstaff: Give Me Life by Harold Bloom: “Shakespearean scholar Bloom fits many treasures into a scant number of pages in what is first and foremost a moving personal appreciation of what Bloom considers Shakespeare's most complete and effective character, Sir John Falstaff. The errant knight gets his due in Bloom's moving description of how Shakespeare's invention touched his life from adolescence on. In addition, the reader is treated to a close reading of Falstaff in the histories…. Bloom demonstrates how the plays work not just on the page but in the theater. VERDICT: An enchanting and appreciative celebration of Shakespeare's greatest comic creation.”