In her first book, a food historian with a feature writer’s flair illuminates the culinary history of the now-ubiquitous chicken.
Though the chicken would seem to be a subject that everybody knows about, Rude makes the humble bird’s story fresh and interesting on nearly every page. “Painted in broad strokes,” writes the author in the introduction, “this is a story of agricultural science and human health, of the economics of feeding a nation and the politics that encircle the making and eating of a food. But on a more intimate level, this is really just the story of dinner.” From chicken soup to chicken nuggets and from “chicken” as a synonym for coward to “a chicken in every pot” as a campaign slogan for prosperity, Rude covers chicken from practically every possible angle and perspective, showing how the bird that was once used mainly for its eggs and feathers now outdistances beef and pork (the “Other White Meat”) in American preference and how it has gone from a high-priced extravagance to a mass-produced bargain. Readers will learn about the 1920s “great Chicken Wars” that rivaled bootlegging in their bloodshed, about the “millions of mail-order chicks” delivered by the postal service, and about the development of “chicken eyewear” and even contact lenses to prevent the birds from pecking each other to death. There’s an unsung hero in Robert Baker, the “poultry savant, a chicken Thomas Edison,” whose legacy extends to the Chicken McNuggets boom, and Rude offers an intriguing analysis of the cross-cultural relationship between Colonel Sanders (beloved in China and Japan) and General Tso. There is also a more serious examination of the “deadly risks” in the mass production of chicken, including E. coli and salmonella.
All this from an author who admits, “I am a chicken historian who does not actually like eating chicken,” but who finds the bird as fascinating as she makes it for readers.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
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)