The personal journal of the highest-ranking US envoy to be interned during the 444-day siege that became known as the Iran Hostage Crisis. Relatively speaking, Laingen was fortunate. Posted to Tehran in mid-1979 as chargÇ d`affaires while Washington decided whether to accredit a full-fledged ambassador to the theocratic regime that overthrew the Shah, he was away from his office when militant ``students'' seized the American embassy and took its staff prisoner. Consequently, the author spent all but the last three weeks of his confinement with two subordinates in the reception rooms of the Iranian Foreign Ministry. More like birds in a gilded (if dirty) cage than political prisoners, the three detainees had access to books, newspapers, radio, and TV; they also had plenty to eat, endured no physical or psychological abuse, and received periodic visits from fellow members of the local diplomatic community. Constant contacts with the outside world enabled Laingen (who turned 58 during his ordeal) to keep an impressively detailed log of his captivity and to remain informed on current events, including the ayatollahs' efforts to make an Islamic state of Iran. Much of the material here, including letters to his wife and three sons, was spirited out of the chancellory by Swiss colleagues. Taken together, the near-daily entries offer an affecting, albeit kaleidoscopic, account of a good and decent man's response to protracted adversity. Lonely, hopeful, despairing, frustrated, resigned, and outraged by turn, Laingen relied on traditional values—duty, honor, country, family, religion—to sustain himself. That these oft-deprecated virtues obviously helped him through some very rough times represents the most important message of this low-key testament. (Illustrations, including facsimiles of journal entries smuggled out of Iran.)
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)
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").