A spirited collection of provocative pathways.

READ REVIEW

THE CHALLENGE OF THINGS

THINKING THROUGH TROUBLED TIMES

A new collection of essays from Grayling (Philosophy/New Coll. of the Humanities, London; The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism, 2014, etc.), whose distinguished record of accomplishments in the humanities and public service is recognized internationally.

The author organizes this thought-provoking collection of essays—most of them a concise three to four pages—into two sections. The first, “Destructions and Deconstructions,” deals with the problems of the contemporary world, including guns, religion, education, climate change, human rights issues, and global financial crisis. The second, “Constructions and Creations,” which is more philosophically programmatic in its orientation, takes up such themes as the public intellectual, the relationship between science and democracy (“the growth of science and the growth of liberal democracy were not merely contemporaneous, but causally connected”), and “Making the World a Better Place.” Grayling will no doubt offend conservative American readers with “The Prophetess,” a discussion of the “tough and tyrannical” Ayn Rand. “The microcosm of the Randian cult,” he writes, “was a reprise of every historical example of actual or would-be revolutions that have devoured their own.” Grayling will also provoke religious fundamentalists with “The Advantages of Atheist Political Leaders,” in which he writes, “atheist leaders are not going to think they are getting messages from Beyond telling them to go to war. They will not cloak themselves in supernaturalistic justifications, as Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush came perilously close to doing when later talking about the decision to invade Iraq in 2002.” However, he’ll likely find plenty of support for his examinations of Chinese and Russian irredentism. Grayling takes a philosophical and ethical approach to human action, which can be at odds with the importance Americans accord to ideological beliefs. Nonetheless, the contrasts he draws between religious and scientific worldviews and practices, as well as his discussions of the role of the public intellectual, are undoubtedly stimulating.

A spirited collection of provocative pathways.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4088-6461-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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

Did you like this book?

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more