A revelatory look into Lamaze writ large—the man and the arduous process that gave birth to his pain-reducing approach....




An unexpectedly engrossing portrait of Fernand Lamaze and the road he took to make universal his method of painless childbirth, fashioned in novelistic style by his granddaughter Gutmann.

Working from interviews, family documents, letters, diaries, and notebooks, Gutmann has drawn an intriguing picture of Lamaze, starting with his move from Nancy to Paris as a young medical student and following him through the absinthe-and-brothel nights that preceded his years in the army, his service in WWII, and his return to Paris and subsequent marriage to Louise. Penury forced Lamaze to abandon the study of neurology and take up obstetrics. Although he became a notorious philanderer, his heart was clearly in the right place as far as his work was concerned, and he financed his treatment of poor and working-class women through the success of his growing practice among the city’s wealthy. Gutmann is plainly fascinated by Lamaze’s extramarital activities—at one point the good doctor had a several mistresses living in his apartment building (and dining at his table) at the same time, because he preferred to be honest about the whole situation—but Lamaze’s conviction that the pain of childbirth could be all but eliminated without chemical intervention is the story’s focus. Hints came to Lamaze when he learned that women in Hawaii actually gave birth with a smile on their lips; he also discovered that in the Soviet Union a painless-birthing technique was being developed that took its cues from the research into reflexive conditioning of Pavlov and Velvoski. Petty rivalries in the medical profession slowed him, as did the Cold War—but Lamaze’s greatest obstacle was the deeply held belief that suffering had to attend childbirth: So inoculated for generations, women inevitably created a uterine contraction that was painful. Gutmann also makes it clear that the Lamaze method is not an easy six-step technique, but a pregnancy-long humanistic process involving the doctor, midwife, and partner—and that insurance companies are not prepared to pay for.

A revelatory look into Lamaze writ large—the man and the arduous process that gave birth to his pain-reducing approach. (8-page b&w photo insert)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-26190-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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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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