Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wild Bill Donovan : The Spymaster Who Created The OSS And Modern American Espionage
by Douglas Waller

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. Over the years, I have read numerous stories about the men and women who served as spies during World War II behind enemy lines. They all worked for Bill Donovan who was the director for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA. Their exploits were phenomenal which is more than I can say for the book. There's obviously quite a bit of information that was brought in and literally TONS of names that you cannot get your head around. The writing is dull and if Donovan was a wild and exciting man, it's certainly not here.
Not recommended.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Final Jeopardy : Man Vs. Machine And the Quest To Know Everything
by Stephen Baker

A couple of months ago, the quiz show Jeopardy had two of the game's all-time winners compete against a computer named Watson. After having watched the show on the three nights it aired, I discovered that a book was written about the whole process of building a super machine by IBM engineers.
It was much more fun watching the show than reading the book. The beginning chapters were interesting and funny and then downright blah. The writing is very dry. My interest left very quickly.
Not recommended.
A Covert Affair : Julia Child And Paul Child In The OSS
by Jennet Conant

The title of this book is very misleading. The Childs barely scratch the surface. Jane Foster is the main character who was accused of being a Soviet spy. They all used to pal around together when the three of them worked for the OSS during World War II.
Jennet Conant has written three previous books and I attempted to read each one but gave up in disgust. I don't know what it is about her writing. She seems to have trouble melding everything together to make the subject palatable.
A Covert Affair is no better and you don't learn much about the Childs.
Not recommended.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fannie's Last Supper : Re-creating One Amazing Meal From Fannie Farmer's 1896 Cookbook
by Christopher Kimball

If the author's name sounds familiar, he is the host of America's Test Kitchen and the founder of Cook's Magazine now called Cook's Illustrated. He should probably just concentrate on these areas and forget about writing a book that could have been terrific and ended up being pretty dismal.
Christopher Kimball bought an 1859 Victorian town house in Boston back in the 1990s which he and his wife restored. He became interested in the neighborhood wondering what society was like in the nineteenth century and what sorts of foods were cooked. Kimball was especially intrigued with Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking-School Cook Book that was published in 1896. He decides to re-create one of her menus and sets about testing, preparing and tasting a twelve-course Christmas dinner.
The subtitle of the book should be: "How I Completely Changed Fannie Farmer's Recipes To What I Like." Kimball is supposed to be venerating Fannie Farmer and instead he constantly bashes her and rewrites her recipes. Sometimes, he uses another chef's version. His ego also gets in the way. Another annoying thing is that in every chapter he writes some kind of historical tidbit which has nothing to do with anything. It's just filler. There are so many negatives with this book but I think I will just stop now.
Not recommended.