Like the print version of an endless, time-filling BBC series—even the most interested readers will likely do a lot of...



Exhaustive, exhausting history of pop music.

Like so many popular histories that aim for comprehensiveness, this plodding assemblage staggers under its own weight. Even though he claims that “this book is not meant to be an encyclopedia,” in trying to tell the story of pop, music journalist, DJ and Saint Etienne founding keyboard player Stanley gets so swamped in name-checking every band and song title that he loses the plot and characters. Instead of focusing at some intelligent length on key figures, genres, trends or shifts in tastes, he is more concerned with touching on everything than doing justice to anything. He’s all about connecting the dots, usually patching them together with well-worn anecdotes or conventional wisdom. The book’s real juice is in Stanley’s scattered opinions, which range from the unusual to the obnoxious. His Brit-skewed viewpoint offers less-than-reverential takes on the Clash and Elvis Costello and stirring defenses of The Monkees, Sex Pistols and Abba, and he delivers a cogent and interesting history of the Bee Gees. Among his many questionable judgments: that “New Morning” (1970) is possibly Bob Dylan’s best album or that Bob Marley’s music was as “musically simplified as the Bay City Rollers.” Stanley, however, does score the occasional apt phrase: Joy Division was “modern pop viewed through night vision goggles—grimy and murky.” Abba’s hits “sound like a music box carved from ice.” The author also writes of the Smiths’ “bedsit bookishness” and Belle and Sebastian’s “librarian chic,” and he correctly notes that “indie” has now “stretched out to become a meaningless catchall term.” Unfortunately, all these scattered perceptions fly by in a hazy, numbing blur as Stanley hits the pedal on this breakneck trip through the past 60 years, and his tone becomes increasingly grating.

Like the print version of an endless, time-filling BBC series—even the most interested readers will likely do a lot of fast-forwarding.

Pub Date: July 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-24269-0

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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



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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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