FRAGMENTS

MEMORIES OF A CHILDHOOD, 1939-1948

At once horrifying in its details and beautiful in its simple, elegant prose, this Holocaust survivor's narrative is a small masterpiece. Wilkomirski's memoir is the result of his efforts to recover, with the help of a psychiatrist, hitherto repressed memories of a childhood spent in concentration camps. The book begins with his earliest memories of family life in Poland, when he was a toddler. As the title suggests, the recollections he has managed to salvage truly are fragments, ranging from the vague (how many brothers did Binjamin have?) to the gruesomely specific (the brutal murder of Wilkomirski's father in his tiny son's presence). The very young boy (he is three, perhaps four years old) is led away by a woman who promises to take him to a place with the lilting name of Majdanek. It was, of course, a a concentration camp. There, with the aid of benevolent strangers, he learns how to endure, albeit at the cost of a shattered soul. At a Polish orphanage after the war, Wilkomirski, his family gone, is again led away by a woman—one who promises him a better life in beautiful Switzerland. Meanwhile, young Binjamin still partially yearns for the familiar world of the camps, the only world he knows. Wilkomirski's narrative style blends the child's viewpoint with the mature understanding of the adult, unsentimentally recreating situations with arresting poignancy. Thrust into the cozy, comfortable Swiss way of life, the author is haunted by fears of betrayal. Has he betrayed his mother by calling another woman ``mother''? Has he betrayed those who perished by living among the enemy, those ``who live in whole houses and who don't wear striped shirts''? Considering the high literary quality of this book, its admirers will no doubt lock horns with critics of the ``recovered memory syndrome.'' Wilkomirski's voice is brave and lyrical, and his memoir is a piercing window onto the past.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 1996

ISBN: 0-8052-4139-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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