THE WARS OF THE ROSES

THROUGH THE LIVES OF FIVE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY

Seward (Metternich, 1991, etc.) retells the story of England's 15th-century dynastic struggles by focusing on five of its most colorful protagonists. The Wars of the Roses were fought between 1455 and 1487 to decide which branch of the English royal family should reign: York, headed by Richard Plantagenet, or Lancaster, led by Henry VI. Several studies have recently come out on this chaotic period (see Alison Weir's The Wars of the Roses, p. 848); Seward says that the structure of his book was inspired by Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror. He introduces us to William Hastings, who rose to become the most influential man in England only to be executed by Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), because Hastings could have protected the duke's nephews, known as the ``Princes in the Tower.'' We meet John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who was forced to flee abroad, turned pirate, was imprisoned for ten years, and eventually helped defeat Richard at Bosworth Field. There is Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), who financed her son's invasions and forged the vital alliance that toppled Richard. We follow the long career of political cleric Dr. John Morton, who eventually worked for Richard's defeat and became cardinal archbishop of Canterbury, chancellor of England, and mentor to the young Thomas More. And there is Jane Shore, daughter of a London merchant, who was mistress to some of the most powerful men in the country but ended her days begging in London during the reign of Henry VIII. Seward's fast-paced narrative is a happy mix of detail and anecdote, given color by apt quotations from contemporary sources and by the author's mastery of the English language. An attractive account of a complex and significant period in English history. (8 pages color illustrations, b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-670-84258-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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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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