The electric guitar changed the world, and Tolinski and di Perna impressively reveal its epic story.



Two music writers explore the history of one of the most iconic instruments of the past 100 years.

The many connoisseurs of the electric guitar are inclined to argue over who put the ax into the hands of so many hewers. Former Guitar World editor-in-chief Tolinski (Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page, 2012, etc.) and longtime Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado contributor di Perna (Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, 2012, etc.) push the usual chronologies back into the 1920s, locating its birthplace in Hollywood, its principal author a Texas refugee named George Delmetia Beauchamp. Shrewdly, the authors note that at the very outset there were plenty of collaborators, tinkers, and improvers. If Beauchamp “invented the first fully functional guitar pickup,” then Slovak immigrant John Dopyera had much to do with the first functional resonator, as did Swiss immigrant Adolph Rickenbacker. The point is, as ever, that the guitar was an accretion of inventions by a small army of inventors, almost none of them born in the countries where they made their inventions. The authors trace the evolution of the guitar nicely up to the present, writing knowledgeably of the merits and demerits of Japanese knockoffs, Pete Townshend–inspired amp stacks, and the contributions of mad-dog collectors to the whole rock ’n’ roll genre: if Joe Walsh hadn’t had an extra Les Paul on hand, then Jimmy Page might have played a Stratocaster, and the whole Led Zeppelin thing would have gone down much differently. Some of these stories are well-worn, but the authors are geeky enough to bring freshness to chestnuts through technical nuggets aplenty. Sure, the Beatles and the Stones had their fans and detractors, but their guitar sounds and rigs were different, and in any event, “the British Invasion was to guitar music roughly what the Gutenberg Bible and advent of printing had been to literacy.”

The electric guitar changed the world, and Tolinski and di Perna impressively reveal its epic story.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-54099-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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