Nonfiction Book Reviews

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The New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord

DK Publishing, March 1999.
Trade Paperback, 208 pages.
ISBN: 0789441195.
Ordering information:

The New Kitchen Garden
by Anna Pavord This reference provides information and instruction on how to design, plant and cultivate a garden. The book provides information through beautiful photographs, step-by-step procedures and detailed explanations. The book begins with information on different types of gardens including: traditional kitchen garden, formal fruit garden, vegetable patchwork, cottage garden, Californian courtyard and the formal herb garden. The next section provides information on different fruits and vegetables with photographs and instruction on how each fruit or vegetable is cultivated. Some of the many vegetables and fruits covered in the reference include: cabbages, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, beans, garlic, onions, potatoes, basil, apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, strawberries and grapes. The final section provides practical information on garden creation and maintenance including garden design, paths, fences, mulching, feeding, watering, crop rotation, sowing, planting, pollination, pests, diseases and weeds.

This is an excellent guide to gardening with delightful full-color photographs and step-by-step examples which help illustrate proper gardening methods. In addition, the book provides insight about different types of garden designs and a variety of different crops -- including how and when to grow them. An invaluable reference for anyone with a garden or planning on starting one.

Spin Cycle by Howard Kurtz

Touchstone, September 1998.
Trade Paperback, 346 pages.
ISBN: 0684857154.
Ordering information:

Spin Cycle
by Howard Kurtz If you have not already looked into Howard Kurtz's Spin Cycle: How the White House and the Media Manipulate the News, you should pick up a copy of this updated edition. As a citizen of the greatest world power at these closing days of the twentieth century, one not only should be informed about what is happening in the White House, it is equally important to be able to gauge just how much of what is being said and being written is truth and how much is editorial posturing by correspondents maneuvering for fame and recognition. As many have suspected, the national stage is a war zone that includes combatants with a multitude of agendas, all of which have prepared for battle with sound bytes and their own sets of polls supposedly gleaned from the minds of voters. Clearly it is absurd to sit on the sidelines to see who is going to win. If too many citizens do this, we shall have put democracy on the shelf as an unworkable ideal for dreamers and optimistic fools. If we indulge in such unwise sophistication, we shall become much like the crowds at a wrestling match, each cheering its own particular kind of villain and ending up with a generally unwholesome drama and the hope that things will be better next week.

According to Howard Kurtz, who is by the way an insider with no particular bias for or against either the press or the presidency, the whole scenario is about power and fame, and getting ones point across on the evening news. The job of the press secretary was daunting. "Each issue, from air pollution to welfare, had a bureaucracy behind it that had painstakingly hashed out its position with its constituency groups. Anything McCurry (press secretary at the beginning of the Clinton administration) uttered from the podium magically attained the status of official White House policy, and if he deviated later on the administration would accused of the dreaded sin of flip-flopping." Kurtz later points out that this setup is not altogether bad since it does force an administration to organize its real policy from an amorphous mixture of wanting to implement ones program, make ones place in history and in general avoid political disasters. According to Mr. Kurtz, the question that has dogged every press secretary since the Nixon disaster is whether the truth can be told or approximated in a highly polarized and constantly shifting political arena.

In his epilogue, added as the problems generated by "that woman, Ms. Lewinsky" refused to stay buried , Howard Kurtz begins to tie together the end game of the Clinton administration as things proceeded toward the inevitable face off between the Oval Office and the press. He points out that "The media had now turned the scandal watch into a rock-solid fixture of daily journalism ." The entire book should be read or spoon fed by their groomers to the standard bearers of the two parties before the next election. Perhaps an informed public should begin to demand the truth in place of the spin. The public forgives much, but they do feel betrayed by liars . There are lessons to be learned by everyone, and one hopes that an informed electorate can demand more than a political chess game. Stalemate leaves everyone disappointed.

--Sarah Reaves White

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