ONE MAN'S AMERICA

A JOURNALIST'S SEARCH FOR THE HEART OF HIS COUNTRY

An American success story, shot through with praise for—and some well-placed criticism of—the author's adoptive country. Grunwald was born into a middle-class Viennese Jewish family, most of whom left Austria at the rise of Nazism, first for Paris and then for New York. (On their arrival at Ellis Island, Grunwald writes, a friendly American gave him a Coca-Cola. He hated the beverage but remembered the gesture. ``And so,'' he writes of the moment, ``began my real American education.'') While his father, a composer of light operas, struggled to find work, writing wretched show tunes in an idiom he couldn't quite master, young Henry became a copy boy at the newly founded Time magazine. Years later, he was to be appointed its chief editor, as well as ambassador to Austria under the Reagan administration. About his political interlude we learn only a little, but Grunwald has as much to say about Time magazine as James Thurber did of the New Yorker, and his memoir will be of special interest to students of journalism. (Grunwald accords evident respect to founding editor Henry Luce, a man much maligned in other journalistic memoirs.) Well positioned as a correspondent and editor, Grunwald seems to have met nearly everyone of influence in our century, from James Burnham and Sidney Hook to Henry Kissinger and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, of whom he paints lively portraits. He also had many dealings with Whitaker Chambers, the Time editor who denounced State Department operative Alger Hiss as a Communist agent, and his long account of that involvement makes for fascinating reading. So, too, do his reflections on the life and career of Richard Nixon, who tried to cultivate Grunwald as an agent of his political rehabilitation late in life, even though Grunwald had commissioned more than 30 Time cover stories on Watergate-related issues. A vivid, excellently crafted journey through recent history, as well as through one man's life. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-41408-0

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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