A work that will be best enjoyed by readers eager to read slowly and think deeply.


A collection of the author’s essays gathered from his last four decades of ruminating about light and dark, shadow and substance, photographs and films.

Trachtenberg (Emeritus, English and American Studies/Yale Univ.; Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans: 1880-1930, 2004, not reviewed) has long focused on the issue of images—still, moving—and on their history and significance. In these 19 pieces (most previously published), the author shows the wide range of his interest and knowledge. The initial two essays deal with the daguerreotype; others explore the work of Hawthorne, Twain, Crane, Whitman, Alger; others concern Louis Sullivan’s architecture, Lewis Mumford’s historiography, the Brooklyn Bridge; others examine the work of photographers Walker Evans, W. Eugene Smith and Wright Morris. And there is a very strong essay about the role of the city in film noir. Trachtenberg’s audience, unsurprisingly, has a marked effect on his diction. Pieces he wrote for scholarly journals can be dense, slow-moving. Of Crane, for example, he writes, “By projecting in the contrasted points of view a dialectic of felt values, Crane forces the reader to free his or her own point of view from any limiting perspective.” But throughout, Trachtenberg urges us to think about the “truth” or the “reality” that a photograph presents, about the agenda of the photographer, about the narrative that the photograph—or group of photographs—tells. He urges us, too, to consider the evolving image of the city offered by our writers and photographers. Some of his earlier pieces have not aged well. His 1970 essay on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, for example, seems almost quaint. He does recognize the power and prescience of Poe’s 1840 story “The Man of the Crowd,” and he discusses it in several essays.

A work that will be best enjoyed by readers eager to read slowly and think deeply.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8090-4297-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?



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?