An astute, challenging assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Jewish communities formerly behind the Iron Curtain, by Jerusalem journalist/sociologist Hoffman. Traveling extensively through the region in 1989 and 1990, just as the old order was crumbling, Hoffman often was able to observe the situation immediately before and after the upheaval. The treatment accorded the Jewish population varied with each country, and was determined partly by the vitality of the community that survived the Holocaust and partly by national attitudes. The small group of ``caretaker'' Jews in Prague, for example, under the control of a party functionary who could claim a Jewish heritage, had few community activities—but, today, former dissidents provide a new direction. Jews in East Berlin—many of whom, seeking security, remained voluntarily under Communist control after the war—received ``protected species'' status that permitted a sense of collective identity, so their virtual subjugation to West German Jewish organizations after unification now raises doubts that the new leaders are any better. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the presence of international Jewish groups has been a mixed blessing, with the agendas of outsiders not always in sync with local objectives; but, even so, hope remains—especially in cities like Budapest, with its substantial Jewish population—that communities will prosper and not be allowed to wither away through a substantial exodus to Israel. Deftly mixing history, countless interviews, and an analysis of recent events country by country, this is a valuable resource for those interested in what the future might hold for Eastern Europe and the Jews who choose to stay there. (Photo insert—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").
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)