The sobering conclusion one reaches at the end of this immensely informative and detailed history of social thought is that there is more to human nature than earlier commentators have imagined.
Degler, (American History/Stanford; At Odds, 1980) is marvelously adept at synthesizing paradigms past and present, quoting the prime movers in anthropology, psychology, biology, and other social sciences. Much of his test is devoted to a chronicle of the nature (biology) or nurture (culture) debate in relation to race, male/female differences, and intelligence. Darwin is seen as partly responsible for Social Darwinism and racism since he deplored the propagation of ``the weak members of civilized societies'' and despised the Tierra del Fuegans as savages. The swing away from biological determinism came with Franz Boas and his followers and later with cultural supremists such as Leslie White and Claude Levi-Strauss. In the decades between came the intelligence-testing movement, sterilization laws, behaviorism, the ``new syntheses'' of evolutionary biology and genetics, ethology, and sociobiology. World War II did much to counter racism, and the postwar years defeated behaviorism. Today, no one paradigm rules the roost, although Degler clearly sees value in the contributions of ethology and such ideas of sociobiology as inclusive fitness. His final chapters present varying contemporary interpretations of the incest taboo, male/female differences, and evolutionary theory in relation to sociopolitical thought. He concludes with conjectures on the evolution of culture itself, with discussions of the continuity from animals to man in self-awareness, planning, and even ethics- a discussion that leads him to conclude that some of Darwin's most radical ideas are only now coming to the fore.
Wonderfully written history that provides a challenging perspective on what it is (or what people have thought it is) to be human.
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").
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)