A bellicose diagnosis of everything that’s wrong with America.

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A LOOK IN THE MIRROR

THE DISINTEGRATION OF OUR MORALS, VALUES, ETHICS, AND SOCIETY CAN AMERICA BE SAVED?

A debut political polemic bemoans the downfall of the United States.

Many in the commentariat have heaped blame on the 1 percent, who rig the system from their positions of power in Washington and on Wall Street, but the country’s problems go deeper than that. In his introduction, Cass writes: “I will, instead, share with you…experiences from family, friends, neighbors, and people like yourselves that typify our newfound greed, selfishness, and social problems.” According to the author, Wall Street’s greed is echoed in the unquestioning consumerism of average Americans, and the average person on Main Street is collaborating in the destruction of all that made the nation good. Chapter by chapter, Cass takes the reader through various segments of society, pointing out where and how they went wrong, from financial institutions (the first word of that chapter, tellingly, is “PIRATES!!!”) to immigrants (who “no longer have any intention of ever assimilating”) to sports (“All major sports have gone mad”) and religion (“It’s being used and abused as a tool for evil intent”). The author takes a particular interest in public education. His position on his district’s School Committee (“I was almost the first School Committee member to sue my own school district”) means that his critique of education is more minutiae-based than other topics. The text features occasional inaccuracies (Laura Bush is not an “unwavering Catholic,” or any other sort of Catholic), though the author provides copious endnotes that cite the origins of his many claims. Cass has some faith that things could turn around, but the book’s qualified optimism is undercut by its inauspicious penultimate line—“can you imagine an all Republican government led by Donald Trump?” While many of the author’s criticisms of government and industry are on point, he frequently comes across as cranky. His distaste for technology lacks nuance, and his views on immigration are downright nativist. This mix of conservative and liberal positions means there are things to please and offend nearly every reader, though those oft-invoked voters who supported Bernie Sanders or Trump seem most likely to see themselves best reflected in Cass’ mirror.

A bellicose diagnosis of everything that’s wrong with America.

Pub Date: July 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-47422-8

Page Count: 404

Publisher: America Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2017

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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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