A deeply thoughtful account of the demands and rewards of Christian devotion.



An eclectic memoir focuses on the author’s spiritual life.  

Debut author West begins his memoir by recounting a serious heart attack he had at the age of 63, which served to remind him about the precariousness and finitude of life. The entire remembrance reflects on the nature of time and its passage and the opportunities for service to God. The work unfolds kaleidoscopically, more a catalog of thematically tied meditations than a conventional autobiography. West ponders the meaning and significance of gratitude and love, the relationship between faith and reason, and the beatific power of music. He also provides moving paean to his family, in particular to his younger brother, Cornel West, who furnishes a similarly affectionate foreword to the book. The author’s life has been an eventful one. In 1955, he was a student in the first integrated kindergarten class in Topeka, Kansas, following Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. He was a prodigious track-and-field runner in high school and won an athletic scholarship to the University of California. West married his high school sweetheart, had two children, worked as a deacon, and wrote an astounding number of songs—some were recorded on albums. He triumphed over stage 3 prostate cancer. The real fulcrum of West’s retrospection, though, is his commitment to living a loving life, the “blueprint” of which he found in the Bible. The work is profoundly philosophical and ranges widely from theology to race. The writing is floridly poetic, though without any sacrifice of clarity: “To be truly beautiful, one must suffer. But yet, be assured, after a night of affliction, there is joy that comes in the morning.” West provides some dark prognostications about the future, a kind of comeuppance for the indulgence of vanity, but in the main, this is an indefatigably optimistic book, which joyously celebrates the power of love. 

A deeply thoughtful account of the demands and rewards of Christian devotion.

Pub Date: June 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5696-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2017

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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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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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