A pastor revisits the most difficult trials of his life while affirming his faith.

Debut author Ridulph begins his memoir with a nostalgic longing for the 1950s, writing, “Growing up at the time and in the place where I grew up was the next best thing to perfect.” His hometown of Sycamore, Illinois, was seemingly a real-life Mayberry until his family was struck by a tragic, unimaginable crime. On December 3, 1957, his younger sister, Maria, disappeared. The family waited an agonizing year for her body to be discovered and was left with only questions. “I did have peace knowing that Maria was in the arms of her Lord and Savior,” Ridulph writes. “But my life was forever changed.” Ridulph then dips in and out of the present, relating both the events of Maria’s disappearance 50 years ago and the stunning trials that occurred only within the last few years. Now a preacher who has overcome an addiction to alcohol and started his own family, Ridulph knows the man who murdered Maria to be Jack McCullough, a neighbor from his idyllic hometown. Justice however, has not been so easy to achieve. Ridulph and his family tried to navigate a tangle of politics and legal maneuverings as defense attorneys worked to free McCullough. In his despair and frustration, Ridulph found hope in his prayers, which he includes in every chapter. These prayers, like most of Ridulph’s writing, are filled with raw emotion and power, but their placement here undercuts the work’s overall impact. Rather than enlighten his mental and spiritual state, they become tangents that feel unnecessarily long. The memoir’s nonchronological structure also leads to some confusion. Both the kidnapping and a later rape trial are mentioned casually before readers know what they are referencing, leaving readers to backtrack. Despite these structural issues, Ridulph still offers Christian readers a bold look into the emotions surrounding a tragedy.   A powerful but sometimes-confusing memoir about pain and perseverance.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6455-3

Page Count: 204

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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