Engaging, if not always compelling, and best seen as a journalist's time capsule, not as an ultimate work. Enjoy it for...

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THE VALLEY OF THE FALLEN

AND OTHER PLACES

A smooth collection of previously published articles on late–20th-century politics and places, by the observant author of, most recently, Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World (1994).

The 11 pieces here are divided simply into two geographic sections: “Other Parts” and “America”—divisions suitable to Katz's initial focus on place. The articles themselves offer much more, notably Katz's ability to immerse himself in the world he reports on and his ability to synopsize history central to his story. In “The Hans Brinker Complex,” for instance, he becomes the first American skater attempting a renowned 124-mile ice race in Holland, in order to capture its difficulty and seriousness for the Dutch. In the title essay, “Dispatch from the Valley of the Fallen,” he recounts the enduring importance of the Spanish Civil War and the history of the Basques, and how they contribute to the meaning of Franco’s death. Despite these and other grand journal or magazine topics, deep emotional involvement is rare here. The volume does offer, however, certain academic pleasures. Students of literary journalism may take interest in how these pieces show the evolution of the genre, particularly in how the narrator's presence in the works changes over the decades. As the narrator-as-character becomes a more common construct, Katz becomes a more comfortable presence, and in the 1992 article on Cajun hand fishing, “The Master Grappler,” he even weaves in a relevant experience of his young daughter. Also noteworthy is the way an article's tone will change to fit the publication—knowing for Esquire, clipped for Rolling Stone, inviting for Outside.

Engaging, if not always compelling, and best seen as a journalist's time capsule, not as an ultimate work. Enjoy it for Katz's ability to convey adventure, and for his prescient takes on the 1970s and ’80s—like his bright view of the young Arkansas governor from a town called Hope.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2001

ISBN: 0-8129-9182-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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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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