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



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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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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