An erstwhile warrior's powerful and thought-provoking report on his unsentimental journeys to Vietnam 20 years after a wounding tour of combat duty. Between 1987 and 1989, Downs (Aftermath, 1983; The Killing Zone, 1978) made five trips to Hanoi in his capacity as the VA's director of prosthetic and sensory aids. A decorated veteran who lost his left arm during a 1967-68 stint as an infantry lieutenant, he was a member of the so-called Vessey mission, which explored opportunities to provide the Communist regime humanitarian assistance (from nongovernmental organizations) in return for franker discussions of POW/MIA issues. Once back in country, the author found to his surprise that he had embarked on a voyage of self-discovery. Initially determined to focus on ways to furnish medical help to a backward, dirt-poor nation, Downs soon found himself drawn to his sometime foes by a sense of shared pain and loss. In his chronological journal, the author offers perceptive accounts of two sets of travels—the semiofficial efforts of former antagonists to move toward rapprochement, if only at a low level, and the personal odyssey that gave him an appreciation of the need for healing. The tough-minded narrative has a full measure of acute observations on latter-day Vietnam, as well as reflections on the casual brutalities committed by American soldiers during the war. Downs also recounts the revelatory visit to the US of a battle- hardened North Vietnamese surgeon whom he guided around Washington, D.C., and welcomed into his Maryland home. While he deals summarily with home-front opposition to the Vessey mission, the author leaves little doubt that he and colleagues were puzzled, even hurt, by the ad hominem attacks that dogged them in the States. A masterful storyteller's cleareyed tribute to the postbellum reconciliation. (Photographs—not seen.)
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)
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").