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   "The Beginning of Infinity," Leningrad" and  "Reign of Iron"

Book Review

Available right now as a break from light reading and all the things on most of our plates with the switch over from summer to fall are two "loaded tomes" David Deutsch's "The Beginning of Infinity" (Viking, $30.00, 487 pages) and
Anna Reid's "Leningrad" (Walker and Company, $30.00, 496 pages.

The Deutsch book is so clearly written, so accessible, so provocatively mesmerizing. It attempts to explain (and succeeds) in its exploration of how the physical world works. The author is a professor of physics at the University of Oxford, where he is a member of the Centre for Quantum Computation so he is well prepared for the brilliant work that presents all kinds of conclusion about human choice, the evolution of our species and a host of other explanations that transform our world. HIGHLY NOTABLE.

Anna Reid is another expert in her field like Deutsch, and she is at the top of her game in this riveting, at times horrible for the facts it presents, illuminating and consciousness raising chronicle of the siege of Leningrad by Nazi and Finnish armies. Her work is informed by the many firsthand accounts, diarists, those involved in those harrowing years 1941-1944. There are very few photos in this intense work of history, but what there are enhance and punctuate the anecdotes and narrative of this always compelling work. Those who own this book will come back to it again and again to re-read the telling, heart breaking and noble passages. HIGHLY NOTABLE.

"Reign of Iron" by James L. Nelson (Harper Perennial, $16.95, 362 pages, paper) is the story of the Monitor and the Merrimac, the first ironclad battling ships. Many of us learned about this topic in high school, but this book has so many details, is filled with such color and information, that in this Civil War anniversary year - - it is must reading.

SOMETHING SPECIAL: "Cecil Beaton: The New York Years" by Donald Albrecht (Skira Rizzoli, 240 pages, $65.00) is an over-sized, ambitious , rewarding effort that mixes and matches 200 illustrations. It showcases drawings, set designs, previously unpublished letters. costumes and photography - -all focused on the legendary Cecil Beaton and his life and times, especially as a part of the New York art scene. To turn these pages is to be brought back into the sophisticated, sexy sensational, sublime scene. Of course, "My Fair Lady" and Beaton's costume design work is prominently featured and a delight to re-visit again. For borrowing, for gift giving, for pure escape and enjoyment - this is the book to get.

"Ritz Paris Haute Cuisine" with Recipes by Michel Roth  text by Jean-Francois Mespiede and photographs by Grant Symon (Flammarion|Rizzoli, $60.00, 304 pages) is a stunning collection of menus, commentary and celebration of the culinary tradition of one of Europe's legendary hotels.  Intertwined is the man who set the bar high Cesar Ritz and his celebrated chef August Escoffier. The linking of the two was a breakthrough in the high end of the hospitality industry in France. The book also tells the story of the acclaimed Michel Roth now running things at the Michelin-starred restaurant L'Espadon. Turning pages of this magnificently produced tome,  one feels in Paris enjoying great food and drink, the best the hospitality world has to offfer from the award winning egg-shaped macaroni and truffle dish to John Dory with Cockles, Lemon Jelly and romaine Jus. Great dining. Great reading.

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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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