Otten’s solid work deepens our understanding of a complex clash of ethnicities and religions.

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WITH ASH ON THEIR FACES

YEZIDI WOMEN AND THE ISLAMIC STATE

Harrowing history of an often overlooked, often targeted group in the ongoing struggle between Islamic State militants and other forces in the Middle East.

It is an irony of sorts that the Yezidis, who live in the Iraqi highlands in territory contested among Kurds, Arabs, and other actors, were safer during the regime of Saddam Hussein than in the years since the American invasion. Not that circumstances were ideal then; observes Otten, a British journalist who has been working in Kurdistan for the last few years, some Yezidi communities had been forcibly resettled during the Hussein years. But then came “economic meltdown under UN sanctions, the breakdown of the state and security after the US-led invasion of 2003, and political failures that followed,” onto which a long siege by the Islamic State group and the wholesale rape and enslavement of other communities layered additional injuries. As the author writes, the Yezidis are Islamist targets for religious reasons; the Islamic State “describes the Yezidis as pagans and devil worshippers who are not entitled to pay a tax and live in the caliphate,” less desirable even than Christians and scarcely human. By Otten’s account, the Yezidis have been fighting back, though they are not well-served by infighting among various Peshmerga and other anti–IS forces in Kurdistan, and they thus “remain unable to define their future militarily or politically, as many, if not most, would prefer.” The author’s careful account is based on significant on-the-ground reporting that often finds her in dangerous situations—e.g., hunched down on a rooftop with fighters trying to take back a Yezidi city from IS occupiers, in the field with young warriors, even children, who are not easily distinguished from the adults fighting all around them. Of some cause for optimism are the Yezidis’ efforts to reintegrate the women who were stolen away, one of whom meaningfully says, “even if we marry or fall in love there will still be this thing inside that is broken.”

Otten’s solid work deepens our understanding of a complex clash of ethnicities and religions.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-682191-08-8

Page Count: 236

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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 LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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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