A veteran blends history and autobiography in this debut memoir examining his military service during the Vietnam War.
Taylor grew up in Alabama and South Carolina as a “World War II baby,” born in the 1940s during a time when the United States became a central actor on the world stage. Nevertheless, he wasn’t particularly obsessed with geopolitics, and the growing unrest in Vietnam barely registered for him as he went to college; married his high school sweetheart, Linda; and found a rewarding job as a forester for a paper company. But the American involvement in Vietnam certainly grabbed his attention when in 1965, just before his 23rd birthday, he received a notice from the local draft board summoning him for a physical examination to assess his fitness for military service. He couldn’t discover a palatable way to avoid the inevitable draft notice and so decided to volunteer. After some training, he found himself sent to Vietnam as an infantryman; combat was “the only job for which I had been trained.” The author describes, in riveting, unflinching terms, the grim reality of war and a soldier’s confrontation with death. He was wounded by a land mine explosion, an injury that earned him both a Purple Heart and the right to return to the United States. Taylor’s remembrance is linearly organized, and he candidly discusses his childhood and adolescence, including his puberty years marked by a “strong sexual appetite but very little sexual knowledge.” His account also eclectically braids the political and the personal, looking back at his life through the lens of world history—at one point, he compares the “prepubescent periods” he shared with South Vietnam. While he intelligently reflects on the U.S.’s foreign policy failures and its misplaced obsession with the march of Communism, his most trenchant and moving reflections are subjective. At one point, Taylor recounts the impact of hearing a soldier proselytize: “Avoiding the truth that I might die in Vietnam, I always thought I would make it home all in one piece and on this side of the dirt. Our ‘street preacher’ unnerved the troops by reminding them they might not live to see another day.”
A stirringly personal account of the horrors of war.
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)