THE OTTOMANS

An illustrated popular history that attempts to demystify the often enigmatic, feared, and misunderstood Ottoman Empire. Historian Wheatcroft (Univ. of Sterling in Scotland) begins with Mehmet's taking of Constantinople in 1453 and ends with Ataturk and the founding of modern Turkey after the First World War. Wheatcroft claims that the Ottomans are still largely reviled, a legacy of the Cruel Turk of legend (and indeed of fact). But this view seems somewhat dated now. His book doesn't contain anything startlingly new as far as the ``inner life'' of the Ottomans is concerned, nor is this culture ``shamefully neglected,'' as claimed. However, that life is perennially fascinating to the West, and Wheatcroft's evenhanded, urbane approach is admirably gripping, especially when recounting the great dramas of Ottoman history: the crushing of the Janissaries by the reforming sultan Mahmud in 1826, the agonizing and unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1529 (with its fascinating account of Ottoman siege techniques), and the endless palace coups ending in ``the silken cord,'' the execution by strangulation reserved for the nobility. We see both Ottoman strengths (a huge military machine capable of massive deployments) and weaknesses (imperviousness to change, corruption, and the volatility of court politics rooted in the Yeni Saray, the palace built by Mehmet to which the harem was later moved). Wheatcroft explains the intricate hierarchies of Ottoman life and shows how the West created an image of its most formidable enemy by turns picturesquely orientalizing, as in Craig's picture of a pipe- smoking pasha having a petitioner grovel under his foot, and grimly factual, as in Mayer's 1800 picture of an Ottoman road flanked by the impaled corpses of criminals. Wheatcroft's contention that Ottomanism is a ``state of mind'' that has survived in the Middle East is less easy to verify. He has, though, drawn up a readable and colorful portrait of a complex history.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-84412-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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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

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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