An impressive memoir with something for everyone: history and government, love and marriage, life and death.



A debut book provides an insider’s account of the Secret Service with the bonus of a spouse’s perspective.

Jan Marie Ritter opens this work on the fateful day of March 30, 1981, when President Ronald Reagan and three others were shot outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. This is also the moment when her two children, who are otherwise largely absent from the text, understand what their father does for a living as a member of the Secret Service. Ritter then turns back the clock to the early years of her relationship with co-author Bob, after they met in Spanish class at the University of Maryland in 1967. Of particular note is a rough period for the couple beginning in 1976, which included Bicentennial celebrations, the presidential election and inauguration, and the shah of Iran’s state visit. As Ritter notes, “The past two and a half years had been an endless action-film serial of late night call outs, long hours, no days off, and out-of-town travel.” At the end of the memoir, she circles back to the Reagan assassination attempt. Fortunately, Bob was stationed elsewhere that day, but he had been critical of a change made three years prior to the hotel’s security protocol that he felt was too risky. Though still troubled by the turn of events, he is vindicated here, along with other ideas of his that were unwisely ignored. Overall, Ritter does a respectable job of weaving the couple’s memoir into the larger narrative of a turbulent period in American history. In addition, the intricate tapestry covers a remarkable range of subjects. But her technique of presenting major national and international events through conversation rather than narration occasionally produces stilted dialogue: Bob goes on and on in long discursive paragraphs while Ritter offers clunky interjections here and there. For example, while they discuss the Jonestown Massacre, readers see this contrived exhortation: “ ‘What can we learn from this tragedy?’ I asked.” In light of relationship pressures and professional frustrations, Bob eventually decided to save his marriage and left the Secret Service. Ultimately, the authors were able to move past this period of strife and look forward to further adventures, perhaps saved for another time.

An impressive memoir with something for everyone: history and government, love and marriage, life and death.

Pub Date: April 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9888502-0-0

Page Count: 444

Publisher: Calvert Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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