A freelance journalist investigates one of Donald Trump’s officials and the battle for health care in America.
Zaitchik (The Gilded Rage, 2016, etc.) continues to rail against the far right in his latest work. For this slim but detailed volume, he concentrates on one man in particular: the Trump administration’s choice for Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price. The author admits it is a seemingly innocuous selection on the surface, but asserts: “There is a stink around Tom Price. A deep, unprecedented, flies abuzz stink.” That “stink” starts in the late 1980s with the merger of Price’s suburban orthopedic practice into a major medical company, positioning him for wealth and a seat in Congress. Using voting records and late-night C-SPAN debates, Zaitchik builds the portrait of a doctor who sees health care as little more than an extension of corporate greed. According to the author, Price only believes in “patient choice and the public’s sacred right to get fleeced by the pharmaceutical companies.” The massive amount of public records evidence tracks Price from his days opposing Bill Clinton-era reforms to his all-out assaults against the Affordable Care Act, creating the narrative of a “foot soldier” rising to prominence by following Republicans and lobbyists. From the title to the comic book-style cover, the volume wants the reader to see Price as Zaitchik does: a T-1000 model Republican with cyborglike dedication—a cartoon villain. The author does a tremendous job synthesizing the larger health care debate and Price’s entanglements with private interests while weaving in some laugh-out-loud jabs. But however fun those turns of phrase might be, his target audience will likely not be shocked that a Trump pick makes decisions based on money. At the same time, Zaitchik’s outlook is too black and white to mold a powerful, reasoned argument about health care that could change minds. For a work focused on one man, not digging deeper into Price the person with at least some benefit of the doubt seems like a missed opportunity—after all, the best villains are often more than ooze. They’ve got some humanity too.
For liberals already mad about the health care debate, this book offers compelling reasons to stay angry.
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").
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)