A remarkable peek into the ascendancy of the Nazi Party in Germany and the march to global conflict.

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THE BERLIN ENIGMA

MEMORIES — FROM BOY TO SPY

A debut biography recounts a man’s perilous adventures during both world wars.

John Harrington grew up in the Australian Outback in Fremantle in the inaugural years of the 20th century. Since his father lived far away in Sydney and his mother was largely indifferent to his existence, John was raised by Cluba, an aboriginal woman for whom he had a son’s affection. He eventually moved to England for schooling and trained to be an engineer, but once World War I erupted, he joined the reserves and was assigned to the “Signal Section” of the Royal Field Artillery. He was sent to France and soon witnessed up close the carnage of war in Belgium. Badly wounded, he nearly lost his leg to amputation. John returned to England and held several jobs—including reporter and photographer for two newspapers—until he responded to a cryptic advertisement looking for a clerk with German language skills. He was hired as a passport clerk at the British Consulate in Berlin, an office that doubled as the headquarters for the secret service. There John was recruited for various espionage missions, including purloining technical drafts of the German Enigma machine, the famous cryptographic device. Later, during World War II, John worked unofficially for the Royal Air Force, aiding it in locating high-value bomb targets in Berlin. When John was reassigned to England, he was tasked with helping with the Ultra code-breaking machine. The exhilarating book is written by his daughter, D.F. Harrington, based on his oral stories. While the author’s prose lacks any literary quality, it’s dependably lucid, and the work is well-structured. But the principal virtue of the remembrance is the extraordinariness of John’s life—he managed to meet an eclectic cast of historically significant figures, including Harry Houdini, Alfred Hitchcock, and Joseph Goebbels. John nearly went on a date with Eva Braun. In addition, the powerful record provided of Germany’s descent into tyranny under Hitler, including the savage inhospitableness to Jews, is as disturbing as it is edifying.

A remarkable peek into the ascendancy of the Nazi Party in Germany and the march to global conflict.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5255-1008-3

Page Count: 350

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

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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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