CARDINAL CHOICES

PRESIDENTIAL SCIENCE ADVISING FROM THE ATOMIC BOMB TO SDI

Engrossing and enlightening account of the checkered relationship between the scientific community and federal government from the Manhattan Project to SDI, by Herken (The Winning Weapon, 1980). Just how delicate the decisions are that shape nuclear-weapons policy is made very clear here: Even as Hitler's anti-Semitism drove vital nuclear scientists from Germany, Herken explains, so did a preoccupied American establishment ignore their significance until Leo Szilard used Albert Einstein's vast prestige to catch FDR's attention. Similarly, Harry Truman, who according to Herken was misinformed by nonscientist General Leslie Groves, used the bomb at Hiroshima rather than ``demonstrate'' it on an uninhabited area, even though evidence is strong that such a demonstration was favored by FDR and most scientists: Thus was the US identified for all time and with incalculable international results as the first (and so far only) user of the ultimate war technology. Herken traces nuclear policy through the emergence of Edward Teller and the H-bomb, the awesome stockpiling of weapons in the cold war, and attempted disarmament—a trail, he shows, on which political accident, personal ambition, national paranoia, and financial imperative continually and irreversibly shape policy. By 1980, the split between the government and the scientific community had so widened that, three months into office, Ronald Reagan had no science advisor because no serious candidate would take that thankless post. Reagan considered abolishing the position, and his budget director wanted to gut the White House's scientific advisory staff, since ``we know what we want to do, and they'll only give us contrary advice.'' As the author demonstrates, the stage was set for the stupefyingly expensive, perhaps ultimately unworkable SDI. Herken's clear, well-documented writing and his close attention to the human element make for a fascinating and wisely cautionary study.

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-19-507210-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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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

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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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