marijuana’s medicinal efficacy led to
changes in state laws. Enter the power-players promising big bucks and other
opportunists, and a chronicle of profiteering and inevitable public backlash emerges, leading to divisions within the movement, eventually culminating in a resurgence of federal crackdowns. Hecht’s cautionary and deftly written account is an
animated examination of how too much,
too soon, almost doomed a movement.
Agent: Jeff Gerecke, G Agency. (May)
177 B.C.: The Year Civilization
Eric H. Cline. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (280p)
Archaeologist Cline (From Eden to Exile)
looks at the downfall of the many inter-connected civilizations of the Late Bronze
Age. This complex, highly organized interplay was sustained for three centuries,
and came to an end over a period of approximately 100 years. Cline explores a
vast array of variables that could have led
to the disruption of the society of this era,
including earthquakes, famines, droughts,
warfare, and, most notably, invasions by
the “Sea Peoples.” In some cases, the end
was abrupt, but mostly it was highly
evolved kingdoms ending not with a
bang but a whimper. Cline handles the
archeological evidence well, though the
narrative drive is lacking. For example,
early in the book he refers to the 2011
Arab Spring, making a comparison between those events and similar incidents
in ancient times. Unfortunately, he
doesn’t carry the analogy far enough and
the book’s storyline suffers. Cline is at his
best when he discusses the archives of letters found at Ugarit and Amarna. Much
time is spent invoking the Sea Peoples,
but the conclusion is that their role was
small. Overall, Cline’s work appears
aimed at those who have more than a
passing interest in archeology, as that record bears the heaviest influence on the
whole of this story. (Apr.)
James H.S. McGregor. Harvard Univ./Belknap,
$29.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-674-04772-3
McGregor (Paris from the Ground Up),
emeritus professor of comparative literature at the University of Georgia, takes
readers through centuries of Greek histo-
After cooking for so long how did you
end up in an M.F.A. program?
I’ve always been interested in writing
and figured if I am to be a writer, why
not do it the right way. It’s certainly
not possible to do both justice at the
same time so I wasn’t an actual chef
while I was in school and writing this
book, but I was still closely
tethered to the kitchen.
Did you scribble down
notes during service?
No, I was just cooking,
which is probably better. I
devoted my entire self to the
craft. After a couple misfires
at writing about something
else, I realized the story I am
suppose to tell is food. It’s
something I know fully, have a personal
stake in, and can write about in a manner perhaps people haven’t thought
Many of your description are very
I am transfixed by the beauty of words.
As a child I read through the dictionary to find cool words. I didn’t have
to imagine the story so it allowed me
to put together sentences, paragraphs,
and description that celebrate the thing
itself and the language we have to
Was it purposeful to skip the sensation-
alism people associate with cooking
My intent was to authentically show
what life is really like for a sous chef.
True, cooking is a rock-star profession,
In the book, you really focus on the
but it should also be part of an aca-
demic lexicon, right up there with law,
medicine, and anthropology. It’s his-
tory, science, culture, and art in one and
I want to do that justice.
The most important thing about cook-
ing is you are feeding someone. If
you start cooking for reviews or your
resume, you’re in a bad way.
Guests trust you to nourish them and keep them
safe, and you can’t betray
that. They are taking your
artwork and ingesting it.
That’s a powerful transac-
tion I wish I could have
touched on more.
Are you still cooking?
I am working in a kitchen
and am slated to open a restaurant as
chef de cuisine in May. I’m also thinking about this second book, trying to
figure out where in time the writing
will happen. I can’t picture myself
being away from a kitchen for too long,
but if the book is about food, and I’m
going to kitchens and eating food,
being around chefs, I suppose that will
What’s the second book about?
It’s an investigation into the history of
what motivates people to cook—
historically, currently, in the future—and
how that differs from one culture to the
next. In hunter-gatherer communities,
someone in the tribe took over and said,
I am going to prepare the food. Why?
Seems like there is a sort of primal urge
to do that and I think that exists in
PW T;;;; ;;;; M;;;;;; G;;;;;
The View from the Kitchen
Documenting 24 hours in the kitchen, Gibney’s Sous Chef (Reviews,
Feb. 3; pub date, March 25) captures the true nature of life on the line
and the hard work, creativity, and dedication it takes to survive just
one day at the stove.