COLUMBUS

Tart, well-researched, critical biography by Fernandez-Armesto (The Spanish Armada, 1988, etc.). There's not much affinity between writer and subject here. It's as if to Fernandez-Armesto the achievements of autodidact Columbus are simply not acceptable: ``...characteristic intellectual shortcomings of the self-educated...always made silly or risible errors.'' Columbus, the author tells us, was of ordinary lineage and could be coy about his background; sometimes he even lied. When the underqualified Columbus finally gets his backing, the author allows that he might be ``even perhaps charismatic.'' But Fernandez-Armesto never lets him off the hook, even at the end of his last voyage (and career and life): ``As always in adversity, the old syndrome flowed forth from Columbus's distraught brain....'' When Columbus gives credit to God for his learning, the statement is scrutinized suspiciously—even though it was an age when man gave God a lot of credit. Allowed to speak, Columbus's flowery phrases breathe life into the arid, quarrelsome text: ``Throughout this time I have seen and studied books of every sort- -geography, history, chronicles, philosophy and other arts—whereby our Lord opened my understanding with His manifest hand to the fact that it was practicable to sail from here to the Indies.'' What's missing here is any sense of Columbus as a complete man, a devout adventurer, the leader who still had time for books, who came out of a weaver's shop to teach himself navigation and astronomy. There's not much feeling for those wild times, either, when everyone misbehaved with such unacademic abandon. Lots of trees, no forest.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-19-215898-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more