A striking historical account by an Egyptian Jew forced to leave his homeland.




A debut memoir chronicles one man’s experiences in Egypt, including his turbulent departure.

Sardas begins his book with his youth in Ibrahimieh, a suburb of Alexandria. Ibrahimieh, the author explains, was home to many people of Greek origin and “visitors might think they were in Athens” walking its streets. The author’s “ancestors were Sephardic Jews, originally from Spain,” though during the Inquisition they immigrated to places like Turkey, where his mother was born. His father was raised in Crete and wound up meeting his wife in France. Such a mixture of nationalities permeates the volume as Sardas goes on to explain his life in Egypt until his eventual emigration. Portions of the book are full of childhood memories, such as the author’s valiant attempts to organize a basketball team at his school and his father’s views on maintaining good health. Such tales illustrate a lost time, though the main thrust of the account comes with the need to leave Egypt. Events following the Suez Crisis in the 1950s led to the expulsion of many foreigners. In addition, as the author explains, President “Nasser unleashed an avalanche of xenophobic speeches.…He ordered Jews suspected of being Zionists to be imprisoned in detention camps.” In 1957, Sardas would find himself leaving Egypt for good with his pregnant wife. He was only allowed to carry 20 Egyptian pounds, “minus 10 percent tax.” The young family would eventually build a life in Brazil, though the sting of Egypt’s goodbye would be lasting. While early sections of the account—which features an assortment of family photographs—will likely appeal only to the author’s relatives, Sardas’ painful and taxing departure from the country in which he was born is vividly rendered. How does it feel to be unwanted in your homeland? What is it like to be forced to a faraway place with very little money in your pocket and no hope of return? The book deftly answers such stirring questions in the way that only someone who was there can fully describe. The reader is made aware in a strong, sobering fashion just how fickle popular opinion and governments can be.

A striking historical account by an Egyptian Jew forced to leave his homeland.

Pub Date: May 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9980849-0-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Thebes Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2017

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


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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