Uneven mix of travelogue and polar history, as Fisher (Environmental Sciences/Univ. of Miami; Hostage One, 1989, etc.) sails on the first surface vessel to reach the North Pole. A breathless tale of grit and guts? Not quite: Fisher shells out $30,000 for a three-week luxury cruise to the top of the world aboard the nuclear-powered Soviet icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz. The trip is uneventful, and Fisher's log consists mostly of arch observations on the landscape (ice, snow, slush); the ship (boiling hot: since unlimited nuclear-generated heat is available, Soviet mentality says, ``Crank it up!''); and fellow passengers (after observing that ``the menu is impressive, the food is awful,'' Fisher remarks that one woman ``looks like the menu and talks like the food''). When the jaded travelers arrive at the Pole, the scene reminds Fisher of ``New Year's Eve, with the crowds...ready to shout and drink a toast at the exact instant when we hit.'' But the Pole breaks through his weariness: ``I...could almost feel myself slipping down the curve of the earth.'' Happily, Fisher expands this forgettable travelogue with extensive retellings of earlier northern ventures, beginning with the doomed Willoughby expedition of 1553 and continuing up to Wally Herbert's dog-sled assault of the 1980's. Here, Fisher offers solid, exciting polar history, hitting all the right highlights: Franklin disappearing into the northern mists; Nansen's three-year drift across the ice; Andree's mad balloon flight. Like most other polar tale-tellers, Fisher pays special attention to the Cook-Peary controversy. He concurs that both men faked or fudged the evidence. The laurels for first overland discovery of the Pole should rest, Fisher believes, squarely on the head of Wally Herbert. A flimsy frame for some bright polar portraits. (Photos—color and b&w—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-41116-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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