Mordaunt Crook, historian of British building (U. of London), takes a sociological approach to the houses of rich Victorians and Edwardians who rose to the beau monde without the decided advantages of ancient family lineage (see Trollope, Disraeli, or Ruskin). Wealth earned after the Industrial Revolution made the arriviste a gentleman, the parvenu gentry. (The subject calls for much French.) Forget primogeniture or entailment as keys to status. These newly minted grandees simply built or refurbished country seats, town houses, and shooting boxes on a monumental scale. Columned and crenelated, gaudy Palladian or French style, the huge buildings were massively ugly, and universally scorned by the Establishment. In his catalogue of these heaps, Mordaunt Crook adopts the same attitude, sniffing discreetly at their proprietors as well. Name after name, each linked with house and source of money, passes before the bemused reader. The parade includes millionaire brewers, financiers, and railroaders, as well as the malted milk magnate, the funerary crepe king, the sewing thread tycoon, the guano czar, and the inventor of the sugar cube. As they were at the time, affluent Jews are especially noted, from Barney Barnato to the Sassoons and their ilk. Nor does the roll call neglect the Crawshays of Cyfartha, Sir Algernon Borthwick, or “Walsingham—the man who shot 1,070 grouse in a single day at Blubberhouse Moor in 1888,——together with the rest of Debrett’s, and their clubs, yachts, sporting rituals, and profitable marriages. It would all be very Merchant-Ivory or, more likely, very Gilbert and Sullivan if (despite rare shafts like “Louis Chintz decor” or —blue in tooth and claw”) it weren’t so soporific, especially for Americans who might not be so willing to tut-tut over the excesses of new money. How many, after all, would mind having Bill Gates’ new digs? Sporadically ironic, generally tedious embroidery makes a dull job of a potentially lively subject. (134 b&w photos).

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7195-6040-3

Page Count: 354

Publisher: John Murray/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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