This meticulously researched volume follows the evolution of the United States from 13 disparate, self-interested Colonies...


The Emergence of One American Nation


Fraser’s comprehensive history shows how partisanship and compromise have always been ingredients in the stew of American politics.

This meticulously researched volume follows the evolution of the United States from 13 disparate, self-interested Colonies to one nation united by the Constitution. Writer Fraser allows that this is well-traveled ground but explains his goal in his introduction: “I want to provide a historical account for the general reader, one that answers a basic question: why are we one nation, and not two, or four, or fifty?” He answers that question with anecdotes and a straightforward, easy-to-follow historical primer. Take, for example, this passage about the dilemma faced by the founders when designing a national government: “Madison was grappling with the age-old problem in democratic governments of whether elected officials should act purely as delegates who simply follow the wishes of their constituents, or whether, as Madison preferred, they should exercise independent judgment.” The founders also struggled with citizens opposed to national rule: “The ever-present suspicion of centralized power was a great disincentive to forming any type of national government, and it would continue to bedevil the leaders of the American Revolution over the ensuing decade.” After a decade with the ineffective Articles of Confederation (1781-1789), under which the states held most of the power and the national government little, came the development of the Constitution, completed by a Bill of Rights, the framework that the fledgling nation required. Fraser also explores the many British missteps in policy that led the previously loyal colonists to pick up arms against their former homeland. The author shows a knack for choosing the best material to reinforce his points, whether he’s writing about the foibles of historical figures or the political infighting at the Constitutional Convention (all men are created equal, but don’t anyone talk about the slaves). Fraser has created a well-structured work that both informs and entertains by putting human faces on those parties involved. He illustrates that the nation’s early turmoil still echoes today, as the tug of war between personal liberty and the public good continues unabated centuries later.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970805-0-6

Page Count: 460

Publisher: Fraser & Associates

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


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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