George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I - Miranda Carter OK, I haven't read this book -- I will -- but I was pissed after reading a review. Here's part of a review that demonstrates why I often hate reviews in the NY Times Book Review. Last two paragraphs:

“George, Nicholas and Wilhelm” is an impressive book. Ms. Carter has clearly not bitten off more than she can chew for she — as John Updike once wrote about Günter Grass — “chews it enthusiastically before our eyes.”

You turn this book’s pages with interest, however, but rarely with eagerness. It’s a volume that never quite warms in your hands, packed perhaps too airlessly with what Ms. Carter describes at one point as “backstabbing, intrigue and muddle.” That phrase would have made a good alternative title."

First paragraph says it's impressive. Fine. And then goes on to make another compliment (after some silly, gratuitous name-dropping) that the author "chews it enthusiastically." Not one of Updike's more felicitous metaphors.

OK, I'm interested, sounds positive, right? But then, WTF, comes the seemingly negative, "but rarely with interest." Because the book "never quite warms in your hands...packed too airlessly," Huh? Filled with "backstabbing, intrigue and muddle," which makes it sound interesting again.

Obviously the writer of this review is staring in the mirror, preening with self-satisfaction at having sounded sufficiently erudite and opaque so we haven't a clue what to think.