This elegant but overly cautious study of Mann concentrates on narrating how the Nobel Prizewinning German novelist, caught in the mid-20th century's maelstroms, stepped forward to become a spokesman for enlightened humanism. Prater (A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke, not reviewed, etc.) seeks neither to amass a psychological profile nor to recapture the subtleties of Mann's literary skill. Instead, he chronicles his subject's public career as a man of letters, analyzing how historical events altered Mann's trajectory—and how Mann, in turn, sought to shape history. To this end, Prater devotes the bulk of his pages to examining Mann's life after his emigration from Germany in the first years of Hitler's regime. That said, some passages about his earlier life turn brevity to advantage—for instance, in Prater's cogent explanation of the complicated scandal over Mann's story ``The Blood of the Walsungs,'' which featured an anti-Semitic caricature of his wife's family. Prater writes insightfully about issues that concerned the private Mann, such as his homoerotic fantasy life, here usefully placed in historical context. He is also good on Mann's engagement with his fiction, giving a particularly lucid account of the difficult composition of Doctor Faustus. Most importantly, he succeeds at his chief project: tracing how Mann managed his literary celebrity while evolving out of the German nationalist sentiments of his youth toward an internationalist socialism. A thoughtful epilogue recommends that we reassess the significance and accuracy of Mann's political thought in the wake of the historical revelations of 1989, but Prater declines to spice his narrative with such assessment. Prater's solid work on Mann's public life complements the more personal portrait offered in Ronald Hayman's biography (p. 132). True illumination, however, awaits someone who will take these two aspects together and add the missing ingredient: imaginative spark.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-815861-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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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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