A useful overview, strong on sociolinguistics, though historical linguists and philologists will find plenty to gainsay.

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THE STORY OF SPANISH

Pop history of the evolution of the Spanish language and its spread through conquest, commerce and culture.

The Phoenicians applied the name Hispania, write Canadian travelers Nadeau and Barlow (co-authors: The Story of French, 2006, etc.), to a strip of Mediterranean shore on which rabbitlike creatures abounded: thus “land of the hyraxes.” There, the language of native Celtic and pre-Celtic peoples met that of the conquering Romans, yielding a blend that would eventually spread across much of the Iberian Peninsula. From there, as the authors chart, it would travel around the world, absorbing streams of words from the languages it encountered—the Visigothic of once-despised masters, the Arabic of Spain’s former rulers, whole vocabularies from the New World. As the authors rightly note, Spanish is not static. A major world language (by their debatable reckoning, the world’s second in terms of number of speakers), it has spun off in many directions, with some 10 varieties spoken in Mexico alone and a highly influential, somewhat simplified version spreading outward from Spanish speakers in the United States. Nadeau and Barlow write engagingly of the “Latin American boom” in literature, which brought Spanish-language writers onto the world stage, and of the stultifying effects of the Franco regime on the language in its homeland. They are less successful in writing of the deep history of Spanish, confusing the causes of the split of Spanish and Portuguese and missing a couple of entertaining if perhaps fugitive theories on why people in Madrid lisp while those in Maracaibo do not.

A useful overview, strong on sociolinguistics, though historical linguists and philologists will find plenty to gainsay.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-65602-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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