DISTANT ISLANDS

CROSSING INDONESIA'S RING OF FIRE

Travel-writer Corn (The New York Times, etc.) goes to Indonesia to satisfy his lifelong curiosity about the vast, 13,677- island archipelago. Setting out with only a vague itinerary and a determination to take travel as it comes, Corn begins his adventures in Jakarta, a teeming city of eight million, where he is accosted by transvestites; and concludes them in Padang, a port city where he stays overnight at an isolated, near-empty hotel run by a coquettish middle-aged Englishwoman. In between are stops in Bali, a legendary paradise now overrun with Australian tourists; Sumba, where a Chinese guide gives the author a tour by motorbike; Timor, where he has a run-in with local authorities regarding off-limits territories; Kupang, the island where Captain Bligh landed after the Bounty mutineers set him adrift; and the now nearly forgotten Spice Islands, which once were fiercely fought over for their precious crops of cloves, nutmeg, and mace. Many of Corn's descriptions are wonderfully fresh (``The skipper is a rail-thin man, sleek as a sea bird and blackened by the sun, squatting on his haunches and sipping his tea'') and many of his anecdotes are charming; the quality of delight that he describes as characteristic of the Indonesian people is mirrored in his writing. He also provides just enough background information to clarify but not stultify. But some of the book's strengths are also its weaknesses: This is very much a once-over-lightly account, with the narrator hopping from island to island so quickly and frequently that it is often hard to keep either him or Indonesia in clear focus. A map is also sorely missing. Still, a fresh, well-written account of a journey through an often-overlooked region.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-670-82374-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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