Author: Fred Rubinstein

No Ordinary Time

This Pulitzer Prize winner, a fascinating addition to the existing Franklin Roosevelt biographies, is a page-turner, a fresh and intimate look into the private lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, one of history’s more complex and important partnerships. It combines …Read More

Casa Lever

When we arrive at Casa Lever (the sister restaurant of Sant Ambroeus) we are usually greeted by Antonio, the tall, elegant, Armani-clad manager from Milan who escorts you to your table. We are at Casa Lever principally because I love …Read More

A Place to Call Home

In spite of having been weaned on British television series, we have become addicted to this unusual Australian TV period drama which is starting its fifth season. So far, we have seen more than 30 episodes, each ending with a …Read More

A Stranger in Spain

H.V. Morton was described by The Times years ago as “One of the world’s great travel writers.” He has written “The stranger who wishes to approach Spain with sympathy and appreciation must do so through its history.” Following his pronouncement, …Read More


In spite of its improbable “haute cuisine” aspirations, “Dawat” is an unpretentious and comfortable restaurant on East 58th street. Launched by Madhur Jaffrey (described on the “Dawat” website as an “internationally renowned cookbook author, actress and teacher”), the restaurant has …Read More

A Stranger in Spain

H.V. Morton is a scholarly writer unequaled in his ability to meld travel and history. The story of his long and leisurely journey through Spain more than sixty years ago, is crammed with delicious morsels of Spanish history dating back …Read More

I Puritani

This is an opera where, unlike with “Tosca,” “La Boheme,” “La Traviata,” “Carmen,” “Rigoletto” and “Madame Butterfly,” you don’t come out humming an aria — one of my unsophisticated criteria for grand opera. Notwithstanding, it was an opportunity last night …Read More


Natalie Portman does a memorable job of reproducing the multiple facets of Jackie Kennedy — the wide-eyed, breathless, artificial naïveté during her famous White House tour with CBS’s Charles Collingwood, the grief-stricken widow and mother, and the calculating myth-creator with …Read More

A Hero of France

Alan Furst has written suspenseful WWII spy novels. Sadly, this is not one of them. Mathieu, the hero of the title, a Parisian member of the French Resistance in 1941, has organized a small network of daring sympathizers who help …Read More

Into the Lion’s Mouth

Dusko Popov, the subject of this well-documented story, was one of the most successful and daring spies during World War II, and is believed to be Ian Fleming’s model for James Bond. Son of a prominent Serbian banker, he studied …Read More

Underground in Berlin

This is the fascinating memoir, told in astonishing and unemotional detail by a German professor, Marie Jalowicz Simon, fifty years after the events occurred. She was then a young Jewish girl from a bourgeois, observant family, who, through luck, courage, …Read More

A Hologram for the King

Not one of Tom Hanks’ distinguished efforts. The year is 2010, in the relative calm before the Arab Spring, and Alan Clay (Tom Hanks), a washed-up former bicycle salesman, somehow persuades his new employer that his skills will enable him …Read More

Jackie Mason at The Oxford Union

Anglophile members of The VDP are aware that The Oxford Union is the world’s most famous debating society, which invites a wide range of speakers to Oxford University. People honored by the Union over the years include the Dalai Lama, …Read More

Where To Invade Next

This documentary (now at Lincoln Plaza Cinema) may be Michael Moore’s best and funniest, but also the most thought- provoking. The intrepid, rumpled, faux-naïf, shambling, tongue-in-cheek populist and provocateur visits numerous countries to plant the flag and interview locals to …Read More

Starting Here, Starting Now

For a delightful, upbeat evening, rush (the show closes March 20) to the cozy York Theatre, 54th between Lex and 3rd Ave., to see this musical revue revival. 26 songs, no book. It’s part of the York’s “Musicals in Mufti” series, referring …Read More

Rotisserie Georgette

Last night when we tried the Mauer’s Mountain Guinea hen, she either had spent too much time on the mountain or on the rotisserie. She arrived toughened and dried out, and the oily tarragon sauce that accompanied her didn’t help. …Read More

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government

This is a provocative and fascinating book by David Talbot, a journalist for Mother Jones, about the pernicious and long-lasting influence that the virulent anti-Communism of Allen and John Foster Dulles has had on American foreign policy, the consequences of …Read More

The Sphinx: : Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists and the Road to World War II

Roosevelt, deeply troubled by the increasingly bellicose actions and pronouncements of Adolf Hitler, was compelled to use his cunning and political adroitness to prepare an extremely reluctant U.S. for war against Nazi Germany. Because he was secretly scheming to run …Read More

A Question of Honor

The early portion of the book (written by Lynn Olson and Stanley Cloud) deals with the remarkable exploits of the Kosciuszko Squadron. Named after a Polish hero who made invaluable contributions to the American cause during the American Revolution, the …Read More

Barbara Carroll at Birdland

Run, don’t walk, to Birdland to see Barbara Carroll, the iconic jazz pianist, who is scheduled to perform every Saturday, accompanied by her bassist, Jay Leonhart. It is hard to believe that she is 91 years old but Although she …Read More

Founding Brothers

Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for history in 2001, this book is a series of highly personal, colorful, critical and amusing insights by Joseph Ellis into the friendships, rivalries and disputes among eight of the more prominent, and fascinating, politicians …Read More

The Big Short

It is a thoroughly enjoyable and provocative film and Michel Lewis, who wrote the book on which the film is based, performed a valuable public service by reminding us of the prominent players involved in the financial meltdown of 2007: …Read More

The Iron King

George R.R. Martin, creator of “Game of Thrones,” calls this series of six historical novels taking place in Europe in the 14th Century “the original game of thrones.” “The Iron King,” Philip the Fair (Philippe Le Beau) is king in …Read More

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe

Daniel Kertzer’s Pulitzer Prize winner is a meticulously researched and annotated book, based on seven years of access to Fascist and recently released Vatican archives. The fascinating characters include Italian, German, French and even American cardinals, politicians, bishops, Fascists, nuncios, …Read More

The Lady from Zagreb

Bernie Gunther is the tough, cynical and outspoken Berlin criminal police officer turned private detective in this tenth Philip Kerr novel of the Bernie Gunther series. Although he never joined the Nazi party and has only contempt for its members, …Read More


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It was definitely not “la même chose” when we returned to Bâtard for the first time since July 2014 (see earlier review below). First the wait staff: it had all the professionalism …Read More

Lucia di Lammermoor

Although it starts slowly, it certainly builds up to a dramatic and moving crescendo. The cast was quite good although Albina Shagimuratova, who has a beautiful voice, is probably one of the more hefty Lucias, and is not nearly the …Read More

Seymour: An Introduction

This is a surprisingly compelling documentary about Seymour Bernstein, a successful and internationally acclaimed classical pianist who, at the age of 50, stopped playing concerts because of the crippling anxiety associated with them. His last public performance, he asserts with …Read More

Le Perigord

Le Perigord is an under-appreciated but stalwart Grande Dame of traditional French cuisine, having survived Lutèce, La Caravelle, Voisin, La Côte Basque and Le Pavillon, among others. Here, the long-tenured professional waiters (no moonlighting actors, please) still wear tuxedos, the …Read More

Le Cirque

Raphael François, the Belgian chef whose résumé includes stages at the Michelin star George V in Paris and the Connaught in London, has brought new energy, imagination and quality to Le Cirque. Our son Nick, who decided to have his …Read More


  Limani is an upscale, spacious and elegant Greek restaurant, opened recently in Rockefeller Center. I know it opened recently because at lunch the prix fixe menu is still only $24.95. My shrimp and avocado appetizer — three baby shrimp …Read More

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

It never occurred to me that you could make a lyrical documentary about a sushi chef. Jiro, who is 85 years old, has dedicated over sixty years of his life to his twelve-seat temple of sushi in Tokyo, literally dreaming …Read More

Untold Stories

    Alan Bennett is an unusually funny and interesting writer who also happens to be a prize-winning dramatist. He first drew attention as a member of the hilarious review “Beyond the Fringe,” then became immensely successful as a playwright …Read More

Act One

According to Dick Cavett (in the most recent NYT Book Review) and countless critics, this autobiography of Moss Hart is the best book about show business. It was certainly written by a figure of unparalleled achievement and authority in the …Read More

La Traviata

The stirring performances at the Met Opera, particularly by Marina Rebeka (Violetta), the striking Latvian soprano, ably supported by Quinn Kelsey (the disdainful father of Alfredo) and by Stephen Costello (Alfredo), received a long, sustained standing ovation when the final …Read More