Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writings on Politics, Ice Cream, Churchill, and My Mother

Simon Schama, Ecco, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-200986-9
In these lively essays and reportage, Columbia historian Schama (The American Future: A History) turns his omnivorous erudition and warm prose to a vast array of topics. There are incisive historical essays on everything from Europeans' evolving image of the "Unloved American" to Churchill's oratory and, in a deliciously cruel book review, the "pigmification of historical scale" in micromonographs. There are meditations on the art of Rembrandt and Richard Avedon; reportage from British and American election campaigns; disdainful commentary on the Bush administration, and a stew to ice cream smorgasbord of foodie articles, recipes included. Schama is essentially the reporter-pundit with a chair in history, illuminating the most contemporary of topics in the buttery glow of historical context. One occasionally wonders whether that licenses him to write about absolutely everything: some pieces misfire—profiles of Martin Scorsese and Charlotte Rampling feel like generic celebrity puffery—and he lacks the distinctive style and outlook that would make you want to follow him all over the map. Still, he approaches every subject with gusto and amusement and, like your favorite professor, always has smart things to say. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/24/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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