A tribute to humanity’s inquisitive spirit and a useful guidebook for readers looking for a little inspiration or purpose.

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The Pursuit of Wisdom

A CHRONOLOGICAL INQUIRY OF THE WORLD'S MOST INFLUENTIAL SEEKERS OF WISDOM IN THE FIELDS OF THEOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY, AND SCIENCE

An exploration of man’s evolving search for answers, featuring short profiles of historically influential theologians, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians.

Chavooshian’s debut is a chronicle of figures who dared to ask the most significant questions about man’s existence. Some were theologians, such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Ramakrishna, positing man’s place in the universe and the nature of his creation; others were scientists, such as Hippocrates, Charles Darwin, or Albert Einstein, who dared to question the mechanics of the physical world. Many of them owed the language and manner of their ideas to early philosophers, including Plato, Socrates, and Sun Tzu, whose methods would be adopted (and sometimes rejected) by later figures, such as Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Chavooshian profiles all these people, along with more than 70 other great thinkers from throughout history, in loose chronological order, summarizing their contributions in succinct but thoroughly researched chapters, sometimes accompanied by images. Despite each chapter’s thrift, they present their subjects’ achievements with great enthusiasm, offering commentary on how earlier schools of thought helped shape their ideas. Each chapter ends with a helpful, encouraging list of each figure’s principal works. Chavooshian presents theologians of Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu origins alongside Christian teachers and features Arab and other Eastern philosophers alongside Western peers. In nearly all cases, he presents their ideas without judgment, although he does take note when he believes that certain ways of thinking lead to violence, fascism, or anti-Semitism—such as Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali’s development of Sharia law or the twisting of Karl Marx’s communism. Although it’s by no means a comprehensive collection—it’s particularly light on philosophers, theologians, and scientists from the 20th century, for example—it makes for an excellent reference source on some of the most influential people in mankind’s pursuit of knowledge.

A tribute to humanity’s inquisitive spirit and a useful guidebook for readers looking for a little inspiration or purpose.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4787-4372-9

Page Count: 446

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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