A highly accessible book infused with sharp considerations of the “first teacher” of Greece and of the epics' enduring...

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HOMER

Graziosi (Classics/Durham Univ.; The Gods of Olympus: A History, 2014, etc.) delivers an excellent guide, rendered with both academic rigor and clarity, to understanding the Iliad and the Odyssey as well as their putative author.

Translated into almost every modern language, these epic poems are cornerstones of the Western literary canon. Homer wrote about Greece's remote past, even for ancient audiences, some of whom regarded these seminal stories as the work of multiple poets, drawn from oral compositions, recomposed again and again in performance and interpreted in manifest ways. Today, Homer is almost as elusive as his character Odysseus—and perhaps as mythical. Herodotus notwithstanding, scholars of classical Greece revered Homer but had no evidence he actually existed. As for modern readers (and viewers), Graziosi points out that most encounter the poems—especially the Odyssey—through other works in varied media rather than by reading the “originals,” themselves subject to millennia of editing. In the end, Graziosi concludes, as did Nietzsche, that Homer's authorship is an aesthetic judgment, not a fact, and that the epics likely were of both oral and written origin. But this debate takes a back seat to her lively observations on the works, their brilliant insights on humanity. and their numerous contradictions. Graziosi's analyses of the literary, linguistic, historical, cultural, and archaeological issues surrounding the poems—not least the “artificial” language of Homeric Greek—are remarkable feats of compression, succinct yet richly detailed. From the existential quality of the Iliad to Odysseus' journey to the Underworld (and how it inspired Dante) to the parallels between Achilles and the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh, this slender volume is fluidly written, provocative, and persuasive.

A highly accessible book infused with sharp considerations of the “first teacher” of Greece and of the epics' enduring power, provenance, and influence not only on antiquity and the Middle Ages, but on the modern world.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-878830-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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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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