A well-researched, brightly told history of the men and women who saved a great compendium of knowledge.




How grit and determination created an encyclopedia for the modern world.

In the 1890s, the Encyclopedia Britannica, then in its Ninth Edition, and the prestigious Times of London both were losing money. Critic and editor Boyles (Superior, Nebraska: Common Sense Values of America’s Heartland, 2008, etc.), editor at large and columnist for Men’s Health, focuses on a pair of audacious American bookmen, Horace Everett Hooper and Henry Haxton, who hatched a plan to revive the fortunes of both eminent publications. They would use the newspaper to sell the encyclopedia by barraging readers with “bombastic, full-page and direct-mail marketing,” a form of advertising that the staid Times had never seen. For Hooper, promoting the encyclopedia was more than a way to make money: an idealist and anglophile, he saw the encyclopedia as “a tool for making the world a better, more civilized place by supporting his romantic vision of an English-speaking elite.” He aimed, he said, “to make the Britannica self-sustaining and give it to Britain as a national trust.” By the time the two men launched their plan, it was clear that the Ninth Edition was quickly becoming outdated. Scientific, technological, social, and political changes mandated new material, so they decided to produce supplemental volumes, hiring as editor respected journalist Hugh Chisholm, “a man of the world as well as a scholar.” Throughout his tenure, the heroic Chisholm served as ballast to ground Hooper’s wild enthusiasms. Boyles traces the evolution of the Britannica and the fate of the Times through lawsuits, battles for ownership, and ongoing money woes involving colorful, earnest, sometimes eccentric characters. It all culminated in the majestic 11th Edition: 40,000 long, erudite, yet accessible articles written by a huge number of renowned contributors. Boyles focuses mostly on the business end; his look at content is illuminating, though, and might well have been expanded.

A well-researched, brightly told history of the men and women who saved a great compendium of knowledge.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-307-26917-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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