La Streisand, warts and all, in this unusually thorough and perceptive biography. Streisand presents something of a paradoxical challenge for biographers. Even detractors cannot overlook the sheer range and magnitude of her talent, the powerful, perfectly modulated voice, her abilities as an actress and a director. But even admirers cannot ignore her egotism, her control mania, her self-righteous stance as a perpetual victim. Given these difficulties, veteran celebrity biographer Edwards (A Remarkable Woman: A Biography of Katharine Hepburn, 1985, etc.) walks the tightrope of fairness with remarkable ease and grace. Streisand once summed up the double standard by which she felt she has been judged by noting, ``A man is commanding—a woman demanding. . . . A man is a perfectionist—a woman's a pain in the ass.'' Sexism in Hollywood is still a problem, but as Edwards makes clear, much of Streisand's controversial behavior has stemmed not so much from her experiences in show business as from her miserable childhood. Her father died when she was very young; her mother never provided the love and uncritical support she craved; she did not possess conventional good looks. Yet these miseries also fueled her ambition. As she once remarked: ``I wanted to prove to the world that they shouldn't make fun of me.'' Edwards traces Streisand's long, determined climb to stardom, describing in detail her career on Broadway, her albums, her work in Hollywood. She argues persuasively that Streisand's fear of failing, the insecurity that stretches back to her childhood, has been the dominant element in her life: ``Nothing was ever enough. She had to prove herself over and over and over again.'' There are times, though, when Edwards skims over events, such as Streisand's break-up with longtime lover Jon Peters, to dwell on their psychological meanings, to little effect. Nonetheless, this is clearly the best account of Barbra Streisand in all her contradictory, difficult glory. (b&w photos, not seen) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: April 30, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-21138-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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