Dearie; Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder; The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell
Charmaine Chan: e- and audiobook reviews for September 2
by Bob Spitz
Upon the publication in October 1961 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The New York Times' restaurant critic Craig Claiborne deemed it "the definitive work for non-professionals". Bob Spitz's biography of one of the book's authors, Julia Child, is similarly admiring of its subject, presenting an affectionate take on the original television chef. Somewhat brave to publish a volume on someone about whom much is already known, Spitz rises to the challenge and succeeds with not only his main dish but also the sides, among them chapters on Child's wealthy family, the McWilliamses. With the arrival of the second world war, Child, who would have turned 100 on August 15, began working as a clerk in the Office of Strategic Services, a job that would take her to, among other places, Ceylon, where she met her husband, Paul, Kunming and Chongqing. One gap is in explaining how Child, who in her mid-30s was still prone to culinary disasters, became quite as remarkable a chef as she did.
Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder
by Dave Barter
Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder gives you an idea of why the British were champions of the sport at the Olympic Games in London. Dave Barter, who clambered onto a bike at 28, originally rode to shed flab after scaring himself in a tight white T-shirt. As the weight disappeared, however, his obsession with cycling only increased, driving him to race and participate in other two-wheeled challenges. In this collection of 30 essays, he writes about everything cycling-related, from singlespeeders to crashes to bad weather. Readers who are not riders may come away remembering the trivial, such as the effects of pre-race hydration (cyclists peeing up walls, against cars, on trees before setting off). Barter stresses how fiscally damaging an obsession with cycling can be. He also points out the friendships often made with the like-minded, who go on holidays together and sneak off from long-suffering spouses for the thrill of foreign roads.
The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell
by Yasha Levine
Fans of Malcolm Gladwell should read this book, as should his detractors, to make up their minds about Yasha Levine's contention that the much sought-after speaker and best-selling author is guilty of conflicts of interest in his work. Levine, whose book is based on an investigation by the S.H.A.M.E. Project (Shame the Hacks who Abuse Media Ethics), declares that Gladwell has been paid millions of dollars by companies and industries that he covers as a journalist. He is, writes Levine, a "branding and distribution pipeline for valuable corporate messages, constructed on the public's gullibility in trusting his probity and intellectual honesty in the pages of America's most respected publications". Levine tells how Gladwell has shilled for tobacco, pharmaceutical and health-care firms, and has an outlet for their propaganda in The Washington Post and The New Yorker. Levine engages Gladwell in an e-mail discussion at the end, although the accused sidesteps the questions.