An endlessly engrossing catalog of philosophical conversations.



In this collection of interviews, accomplished luminaries discuss various dimensions of ethical life. 

While the host of an internet-based radio talk show, Merchey (Building a Life of Value, 2005) conducted 89 interviews with writers, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and academics revolving around the nature of ethics. His book, which derives its name from the radio show it records, presents 20 of those dialogues, each one preceded by an introduction of the topic at hand and the participants. The conversations are broadly conceived and cover a panoramic landscape of philosophical subjects. Some of them chiefly handle political subjects like progressivism, liberalism, and leadership, while others are driven by economic concerns and assess the moral challenges posed by capitalism, entrepreneurialism, and business in general. One chapter features a provocative discourse with a seasoned scholar about the possibility of teaching children morality. Despite the eclectic character of the assemblage, there are two recurrent themes that tether the otherwise disparate parts into a coherent package. First, there is the centrality of the moral life, which every exchange returns to like a shared refrain. In addition, many of the discussions touch on the rational examination of the good life, or the goodness in thinking about goodness. In one particularly intriguing segment, author Jennifer Michael Hecht addresses the value of doubt itself. In another chat, scholar Tom Morris captures the importance of philosophy to practical life succinctly: “Philosophy is a personal quest for more wisdom about life and more insight about living.” The interviews are consistently thoughtful and engaging; besides leading them with great skill, Merchey also has a talent for recruiting lively contributors. And while the interviewees tend to be intellectuals—it’s remarkable how many of them have a Ph.D.—the dialogues always remain broadly accessible, avoiding the trap of overly esoteric digressions. Merchey has a master’s degree in clinical psychology from California State University Fullerton and is buoyantly erudite, effortlessly diving into all manners of issues. The book, which is studded with philosophical and inspirational quotes from famous personages, is a feast for both the mind and the soul. 

An endlessly engrossing catalog of philosophical conversations. 

Pub Date: May 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944313-84-5

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Palmetto Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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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