Businessman and former Libertarian presidential candidate Jackson argues a polarized America needs a divorce from itself.

Like many Americans, Jackson believes the federal government is “broke and broken,” with little hope for improvement on the horizon. Yet, instead of griping about politics, Jackson proposes a radical solution to what he sees as irresolvable differences over how to best govern the country: a constitutional amendment to divide the United States into two sovereign nations. Far from a cry for secession, the author envisions a peaceful separation of “Red thinking” states from “Blue thinking” states along philosophical lines. Both independent countries, he argues, would be capable of fostering a high standard of living because their leaders would not be constantly thwarted by the opposing side. Jackson dismisses bipartisan compromise as “hopelessly unobtainable” because one side always tries to force their principles on the other. He also blames the “elite Fifteen”—the top officeholders in Washington D.C.—for contributing to the country’s polarization. The book is careful to distinguish “Red” and “Blue” from Republican and Democrat, and refrains from passing judgment on which side is better. Several earnest but less than persuasive chapters and appendices explain how both nations could be established fairly, covering issues such as Social Security, dividing federal assets and realignment of the military. Some ideas show a solid grasp of civics, like suggesting a Constitutional Convention to propose the amendment. Others are inconceivable, like “Blue Country” occupying the Northeast and West Coast, geographically separated by a vast swath of “Red Country.” The author deserves points for courage and creativity, but the book comes across as somewhat naive. Key assumptions lack credible sources, and Wikipedia is cited too often for the serious student of politics. While a sincere effort is made to address the domestic implications, scant attention is paid to the geopolitical and global financial market instability that could result from chopping the world’s superpower in half. Ultimately reads like an undergraduate “what-if” essay—passionately argued but highly improbable.


Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615531229

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Bob Jackson

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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