Debbie's Reviews > Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance: The Turbulent Life and Fine Times of the Man Who Changed the Way We Eat

Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance by Thomas McNamee
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May 08, 12

bookshelves: biography, first-reads
Read from March 31 to May 07, 2012

This was a fascinating book. My friends consider me a "foodie", though I don't agree. I love to eat at nice restaurants, try new dishes, and experiment with my cooking club. None of those things however make me a true "foodie". I am just not that knowledgeable. Craig Claiborne was a "foodie", perhaps the first in our country, and he brought a desire for that knowledge to a large percentage of people just like me. I never read one of Claiborne's columns but had I, I would have been one of his devoted followers. Learning about the life and career of such a man was a wonderful discovery for me.


McNamee makes Claiborne come alive. As I was reading the book I found myself making the journey with Claiborne and wishing that I was more than just a voyeur. I wanted to be a part of the lavish dinner parties, on the trips to Europe to explore the newest restaurants, and to have written some of the amazing cookbooks which carry the Claiborn byline.

However, as is true with anyone, Claiborne was not just his public persona. He had an unseen, and for that time period, scandalous personal life. He lived with the same demons a lot of us do and had the same character flaws too. This does not distract from the persona of Claiborne but serves to make him someone that more of us can relate to.

If you are interested in food at all I think that this biography is definitely worth the time to read. I not only learned a lot about the food revolution in America but I was left with a respect for what it took to make it come about, not to mention a compelling need to go out and buy The New York Times Cookbook.
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04/01/2012 page 39
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Debbie I am enjoying this book so far. I will post a further review closer to the publish date!


Marsha Thanks for this marvelous review. I won this book for free through Goodreads First Reads (yay!). I started it yesterday thus I’m only a few pages into it. But it is everything your review states it to be. You are pulled into the life of Mr. Claiborne—his early years, his stint in the army, his acceptance of his own sexuality and his rigorous training to become an excellent judge of good food.

I myself adore cooking (during this recession, home cooking is a necessity not a luxury). So I understand your viewpoint when you write about your awe at Mr. Claiborne’s efforts to become an exquisite judge of haute cuisine and fine dining at any level. If I hadn’t wanted to read his book before reading your review, I certainly do now.

But your review is more than the outlook of a devoted cook. You make it clear that there’s more within the pages of this book and make Mr. Claiborne someone we want to get to know better.


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