The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business by Nelson Lichtenstein
A review by Jefferson Decker
In October 2003 employees at more than 800 chain supermarkets in California walked out of their jobs after management demanded pay cuts and a reduction in health insurance benefits. The ensuing strike and lockout were notable for the number of workers involved (59,000), the duration of the conflict (more than four months) and the defeat eventually suffered by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represented the workers. Just as notable was what had ostensibly provoked the showdown. In 2002, the discount chain Wal-Mart announced that it would place at least forty new...
The O'Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families by Bill O'Reilly
A review by Gerry Donaghy
Dear Readers, I want you to remember this day. I am pleased to announce that sometime between now and the day I die, I'm going to write a book for tweens and teens called Life Sucks Until You're Old Enough to Buy Beer and Get Laid. It's going to take a while to write, so those of you who are the parents of teenagers might want to seek alternative books to give your kids. If encouraging your kids to be devoid of any compassion, originality, or critical thinking is your goal, you may want to consider The O'Reilly Factor for Kids by Bill O'Reilly.
Yes, folks, that's right: television's...
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel by Amy Hempel
A Singular Voice
A review by Benjamin Schwarz
Few fiction writers are as intensely admired by their peers as is Hempel, though she's never published a novel. Her reputation rests solely on the four landmark collections of short fiction gathered here, including the long-out-of-print At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (used copies of which are both rare and expensive). She will forever be tagged a minimalist, which is accurate enough if largely unrevealing, since there's both great and execrable minimalist fiction. True, a ruthless economy characterizes her writing, but it's owing not to a studied lack of affect (an attribute that marks...
The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy: Twenty Years of the Best Food Writing from the Journal Petits Propos Culinaires by Alan Davidson
A friendly bow to the French
A review by Bee Wilson
Along with kiwi fruits, tiny portions on large plates, fanned-out duck breasts and flourless sauces, the nouvelle cuisine of the early 1980s just adored pink peppercorns. These exciting little berries seemed designed for the new way of cooking. They were or so the chefs thought who sprinkled them with such abandon not only decorative and non-fattening, two important aspects of nouvelle cuisine, but also wonderfully new. Black pepper was boring, no matter how big the grinder; bottled green peppercorns were hackneyed. Pink was in.
Few of us who embraced the expensive pink...
War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today by Max Boot
Why It's Better To Be Smart Than Strong
A review by Paul McLeary
If nothing else, one would hope that the war in Iraq would dispel the myth that wars can be fought through the seemingly bloodless medium of "smart" bombs.
Max Boot, in his meticulously researched new book, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today, does as much as any other writer of recent vintage to bring the fleshy reality of warfare back into view by looking at how technological advances, coupled with the innovations of field commanders, have changed warfare over the past five centuries.
Boot divides revolutions in warfare from 1500 to the...
How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science by Russ Parsons
A review by Corby Kummer
Russ Parsons edits the newspaper food section I read most closely, in the Los Angeles Times. He's also a wonderfully enthusiastic cook and writer, sending dispatches to the newspaper every week from his kitchen.
His new book, How to Read a French Fry, is not a collection of columns, however. It's a carrying forward of his natural and great curiosity about why ingredients behave the way they do under pressure and over heat. Parsons wants to know the reasons behind cooking dicta: why flour and cornstarch must first be mixed with butter or water before being added to a sauce (otherwise the...