PositiveBookPage[Garfield] turns his relaxed, fireside-chatty tone (and a sprinkling of puns) to the human fascination with not size, but scale. In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate the World is a charming collage of historical vignettes and commentary, wandering from tiny volumes and flea circuses to miniature railroads, both the hugely commercial layouts and the private escapes of such enthusiasts as Rod Stewart, Neil Young and Roger Daltrey (rock stars and railroading—who knew?).
PositiveBookPageThis fun, flamboyant read is [Boessenecker\'s] ninth book, and it reads a little like a wall of wanted posters, handlebar mustaches and all ... Most of the reference material Boessenecker uses is from the period, like contemporary newspaper reports, and the fervid prose has seeped into the text. But that’s much of the fun of the book; short, dramatic scenes and crosscutting violence.
MixedBookpageThough it may be best suited for initiates of Napoleona, The Invisible Emperor details the deceptively calm but ultimately catastrophic interlude in the 25-year military career of one of history’s most famous soldiers, Napoleon. Historian Mark Braude has re-created a detailed description of the emperor’s 10-month exile from France to the island of Elba ... Braude’s narrow focus on this \'invisible\' interlude dangles bits of psychological suppositions not always entirely supported, but his view of a man still caught up in his own self-image—one which, it must be admitted, was shared by many others—is intriguing.
PositiveBookpageWith almost all the ruling families across Europe were related...thanks to Queen Victoria’s prodigious matchmaking skills...Alexandra Feodorovna, went on to marry her cousin Nicholas II, the czar of Russia ... So why, given all the family ties, were \'Alicky\' and \'Nicky\' left to die at the hands of revolutionaries? Many of the royal cousins attempted to create a plan for rescue, but the bulk of the blame for their deaths has generally been laid on King George V. But in her new book, The Race to Save the Romanovs,, historian Helen Rappaport argues that British anti-royal sentiment in that era was so strong that rescuing the Romanovs could have been disastrous for King George’s family.
This is not the sweet, sacrificial Nicholas and Alexandra of other biographies. Rappaport writes—with substantial evidence—that the czar was a weak leader, and the czarina was a decided and sometimes oblivious partisan. They were, however, deeply devoted to one another and to their children. Ultimately, however, what resonates is the irony of the book’s title. There was no \'race,\' or even a jog: The Romanovs were all but abandoned by their extended family.
PositiveBookPage\"Dave Itzkoff’s exhaustive and exhausting biography of the inimitable comedian and actor, Robin, meticulously traces Williams’ life and career, his seemingly overnight success, marriages, infidelities and closest friendships, using extensive personal interviews of family and friends. Itzkoff largely allows Williams’ inner circle to supply the psychological analysis on the late creative genius.\
Matthew Walker, PhD
PositiveBookPage...[an] accessible but impressively documented book ... Walker looks at the curve of sleep patterns over a lifetime, mapping children’s late-breaking circadian rhythms (children may have an excuse for dragging their feet to school), the maturation of the brain from back to front (your teenager really is functioning with less than a total brain) to dismissing the myth that older adults don’t need more sleep, arguing that factors such as increased medications, social drinking and the need to get up in the dark are disruptive. Lack of sleep is also linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Walker takes on insomnia, narcolepsy, sleeping pills, decoding of dreams (including anecdotes about Keith Richards and Mary Shelley), and comes down hard on the extreme danger of driving on too little sleep—friends don’t let friends drive drowsy.
RaveBookPageWaters’ memoir, as touching as it sometimes is, can be a little helter-skelter: There are italicized inserts that shoulder into the narrative, supplying details of a person’s biography or offering foreshadowing or philosophical asides. And there are plenty of famous names dropped, unavoidably, as Waters’ friends are connected to an impressive array of filmmakers, more experienced chefs, artists and writers. These diary-like passages, and Waters’ almost stream-of-consciousness remarks on the importance of mood, music, visual arts and flowers on the dining experience, come to a head with the hilariously chaotic opening of Chez Panisse in 1971. If the way to counterculture’s heart is through its stomach, Chez Panisse is the start.
PositiveBookPageOccasionally, Gopnik’s love for the epigram trips the reader up: 'Art traps time, but food traps manners. The art lasts, the food rots.' This is his introduction into a recollection of not only his life in SoHo but also his fledgling professional art criticism and gradual breakthrough into the literary universe. At the Strangers’ Gate is a book studded with nuggets of fine prose, best tasted in smaller sections.