Incredibly—after all that has been said—the Sacco and Vanzetti case comes up in a major and moving work. This is probably the best, certainly the most painstaking and panoramic book yet written about America’s tortuous cause celebre. Francis Russell has produced a remarkable reconstruction, full of conflicting personalities and particulars set against a social background of irreconcilable positions, heartfelt passions. Vanzetti, a fishpeddler who read Darwin and Marx, Dante and Renan, and Sacco, a piece worker with wife and children, were both members of a New England anarchist group, and both were Italian immigrants “nameless, in a crowd of nameless ones.” Accused of murdering a South Braintree paymaster and his guard, their subsequent trial, extending over seven years, influenced the spirit of the twenties from Massachusetts to Europe and ignited a courtroom drama unlike anything seen before (a browbeating district attorney, a self-sacrificing lawyer, a rasping judge, the Madeiros’ “confession,” demonstrations, bombings and bombast), only to end in the electric chair for the defendants. It also had its share of double-edged ironies: at a time when anarchists were being secretly liquidated in the Soviet, the Communist International was calling for propagandistic party-line support of the two “martyrs,” and, on the other hand, old Yankee fear of radicalism and revolution was openly prejudicing the jury, thus Sacco and Vanzetti became pawns in the “class struggles” of both sides. As to the author’s verdict: Vanzetti was innocent, Sacco guilty; of this recent ballistic tests leave small doubt. A stunning study.
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)