An endearing snapshot of a wartime marriage unlikely to appeal to a wide readership.



A daughter lovingly reconstructs her parents’ lives based on the letters they exchanged while separated during World War II.

Irma and Louis Vajda had similar childhood experiences growing up in an insular enclave of Eastern European families in Cleveland. Both Hungarian—Irma was born in the U.S. to immigrant parents, and Louis arrived from Hungary in 1921 at the age of 7—they faced discrimination whenever they ventured beyond their neighborhoods. They met in 1938 at a dance and married two years later during a tumultuous time in American history, haunted by both the Depression and the specter of world war. Louis was drafted into the Navy in 1943 as an apprentice seaman and served aboard the USS Bull, an assignment that often proved terribly dangerous. Between 1943 and 1945, Louis and Irma exchanged more than 500 letters, the correspondence a remarkably touching “lifeline between husband and wife.” Budden (The Un-Common Raven: One Smart Bird, 2013, etc.)—the daughter of Louis and Irma—weaves a short history of her parents’ marriage based on those letters, some reproduced in the book. Those two years of separation caused great anxiety for both, and the tender epistles provided much-needed reassurance, especially for Irma, who writes: “I want so to hear from you. Please don’t give me any excuses. That isn’t what I want! Don’t say there isn’t anything to write about. There is too! Even if you just say things like ‘I got up from my chair and then sat down again.’ ” The author skillfully gives a peek at her parents’ lives and at those of immigrants in the U.S. during a period of unrest and scarcity. A thoughtful account of the ways in which the war transformed the place of women in society—essentially compelled to join the workforce in the absence of their husbands—emerges as well. The letters often dwell on quotidian matters like bills, and the story as a whole is very personal, accompanied by family photographs. As a result, Budden’s book will likely be most appreciated by those in her sphere of family and friends.

An endearing snapshot of a wartime marriage unlikely to appeal to a wide readership.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-578-55760-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Red Rock Mountain Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2020

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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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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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