A sometimes-touching memoir that will particularly delight the author’s friends and loved ones.

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FARMER'S SON, MILITARY CAREER

Vold’s debut memoir focuses on the 30 years he devoted to the U.S. Air Force. 

The author was born in 1940 and grew up on the eastern plains of South Dakota. His father was a farmer, but it wasn’t the most rewarding profession for him, especially during the Depression years. Vold says that he was deeply influenced by his father’s experience when he made the decision to chart his own course. After a brief stint in college at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the author dropped out and enlisted in the Air Force. He was initially rejected because of his farsightedness, he says, but he successfully reapplied for an officer-commissioning program. After this point, the memoir largely chronicles his successful military career, which spanned three decades; he retired in 1989 as a chief master sergeant. During his service, he traveled widely within the United States and abroad, and was stationed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The most dramatic elements of Vold’s tale take place then, when he worked as a boom operator, helping to refuel other planes in flight; on one particular mission, he recalls, flying over the Gulf of Tonkin he could see the North Vietnamese fire missiles at American aircraft. After his retirement, he went back to school at California State University, Chico, and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. Vold’s remembrance is filled with photos and he explains them with plentiful commentary, tracking the arc of his professional life, as well as his developing family. At its best, this autobiography is candidly thoughtful. For example, the author tells of how, as a young man, his horizons were broadened regarding race relations; he notes that he, a white man, had never met a person of color before he entered the military. Also, his accounts regarding his father radiate a heartwarming affection, as in a section in which he recounts various dreams that he’s had about him. However, Vold’s minutely detailed exposition of his military career—including the most quotidian parts—may not interest many general readers. 

A sometimes-touching memoir that will particularly delight the author’s friends and loved ones. 

Pub Date: March 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63417-861-7

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

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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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