A historically intriguing and tender retrospective.

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THE GIRL FROM COPENHAGEN

In this debut book, a writer offers a tribute to his mother, who left Denmark after World War II to marry a handsome American soldier.

Born in 1923 in a small town in Denmark, Inge Elizabeth Buus grew up on the family farm, a successful enterprise. But she did not take to country life. She decided to study nursing and, to that end, moved to Copenhagen after finishing high school. Nursing was satisfying, but her ankles, weakened from rickets, became compromised, and Inge secured a high-paying job as a bookkeeper for “Burmeister and Wain, the largest shipyard in Denmark.” The Germans occupied Denmark in 1940. Although the country was under the yoke of the Third Reich, Hitler’s demand for new ships brought temporary prosperity. Peterson’s attention to the details of the war as experienced in Denmark creates one of the more captivating sections of the book. Following the Nazis’ surrender, Robert, an American soldier stationed in Germany, took his 10-day leave in Copenhagen. At a dance for GIs and British soldiers, he met Inge. After a week’s courtship, Inge knew she had found her life partner; 10 months later, in September 1946, she sailed to America to marry him. The author was born in November 1947. Over the course of his mother’s life, she would make 24 trips back to Denmark, 11 of those accompanied by Peterson. His comprehensive account of those journeys, including, it seems, a citing of every tourist and off-the-beaten-track spot they visited, forms a travelogue of sorts within the larger narrative. Especially close to his mother, the author delivers recollections of his own life that primarily concern activities he shared with his parents, especially Inge. He does devote several pages to a strange and tiresome obsession over what he believes was an inadequate third grade education. And some readers are likely to find his occasional political snark off-putting. He refers to payroll taxes as supporting “restrictive government programs…designed to mollify ‘the little people.’ ” The generally engaging prose is augmented with a substantial supply of black-and-white and color family photographs.

A historically intriguing and tender retrospective.

Pub Date: April 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949735-76-5

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Ideopage Press Solutions

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

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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

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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