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Jesse Browner leads the way back through Western civilization, from a present-day poker game where Browner's devastatingly delicious sandwiches leave the best players penniless, to the ancient Greeks, whose gods punished or exalted the mortals according to their excellence as hosts. On the way, we visit Hitler at his summer home, Gertrude Stein in Paris and Lady Ottoline Morrell in England, Audubon in nineteeth-century America, Louis XIV at Versailles, and the Roman emperors, for whom classic dinner-table entertainment was a good poisoning. As delightful and edifying as an evening in favored company, The Duchess Who Wouldn't Sit Down is a must-read for anyone who's ever accepted an invitation-or wonders why they keep sending them out.
- Bloomsbury Publishing, December 2008
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