America's first hostage crises date back to its formative years, when Muslim pirates operating out of city-state ports along North Africa's Barbary Coast preyed on its merchant vessels in the Mediterranean. Here, with considerable analytic flair, Whipple (The Challenge, 1987) sorts out Washington's often irresolute response to these seizures and the incarceration of US sailors. In his engrossing narrative (which neither ignores nor belabors obvious parallels to latter-day events in the Middle East), the author skillfully combines vivid accounts of derring-do with shrewd appraisals of contemporary politics and diplomacy. Among other events, the many-splendored story line encompasses the first US attempt to overthrow the head of a hostile government (the bashaw of Tripoli), plus America's initial effort to isolate another nation via blockade—and bombardment. Covered as well are our nation's earliest debates on defense budgets, foreign intervention, the President's war-making powers, and allied issues that have proved nothing if not perdurable. In addition to the satisfyingly treacherous villains, the plot features a great many authentic American heroes and more than a few shady middlemen offering to swap arms for captives. Standouts in the white-hat ranks include Edward Preble (a quarter-deck tyrant who commanded the first US Navy forces to go into battle), Stephen Decatur (then a junior officer of notable boldness), and William Eaton. As a self-styled general, Eaton led a rabble of Arabs, Christians, and eight US Marines out of Egypt across the Libyan desert to free the 307-man crew of an American warship captured by the Tripolitans. How legates with their own agendas cheated him (and the US) of a hard-won victory at the 11th hour makes a fascinating and cautionary tale. Americana at its rousing and resonant best.

Pub Date: July 18, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-08781-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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