An often gripping account of some fascinating women of the air.

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A collection of interviews with female fliers from the early years of aviation history.

This big, satisfying book from Broughton (The Levees That Break in the Heart, 2016, etc.) consists of 29 interviews that he conducted over the past four decades with women who were, in their youth, rough-and-ready trailblazers in the realm of domestic aviation. These women broke barriers by being barnstormers, aerial acrobats, bush pilots, flight instructors, and participants in cross-country aerial races. One is the legendary stunt pilot Dorothy Hester Stenzel, “a record holder in aerobatic flying, holding early world records in loops and several other categories,” who was born in 1910; another is Kimberley Olson, who entered the U.S. Air Force in 1979 and went on to become one of its eight female flying squadron commanders. Olson recalls that, as a little girl, she looked at contrails crossing the Iowa sky and told her mother that she’d like to be a pilot someday. In all of these interviews, Broughton offers minimal exposition, setting up each segment with basic biographical information—most begin with a photo of the subject and occasional references to books they’ve written—and then launching straight into a series of questions that reveal his in-depth knowledge of each woman’s life and career. Throughout the collection of Q-and-A’s, he wisely steps back and lets his subjects do most of the talking, showcasing their enormous personalities and often caustic wit. The result is absolutely delightful. At one point, for example, Broughton asks pioneering flight academy owner Claire Walters when she first got into flying; she laughs and answers, “I think it started when I fell out of my crib, the first time I fell on my head. No, I was born this way, wanting to fly. I never planned to do anything else.” National aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff recalls reading the flight-history novels of Ernest K. Gann and noting ironically, “It’s funny because [he] was pretty sexist...the women in his books are flight attendants or babes.” Veteran flight instructor Louise Prugh, born in 1916, responds to the interviewer's calling her a pioneer with a simple humility of a kind that runs through most of the interviews here: “I just wanted to do it because I liked the world from the sky.” Broughton often showcases his subjects’ skills; when he mentions to flight instructor Amelia Reid that she must have come close to power lines during some of her woollier flights, for instance, she notes that she sometimes flew under them. Over the course of these interviews, Broughton uses playful tact and careful diligence to effectively bring the worlds of the various women to vivid life. A bit more interstitial narrative might have made for a smoother, more informative reading experience, along the lines of Keith O’Brien’s excellent 2018 book Fly Girls. However, the subjects here make such lively, funny, and wise company that readers will scarcely miss additional context.

An often gripping account of some fascinating women of the air.

Pub Date: May 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-912350-54-7

Page Count: 586

Publisher: Open Look Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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