Moreover, Angry Wind merits a solid audience at the African desks of Western intelligence agencies. There’s trouble brewing...

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ANGRY WIND

THROUGH MUSLIM BLACK AFRICA BY TRUCK, BUS, BOAT, AND CAMEL

An often scintillating if sometimes sluggish tour of the western Sahel, that narrow coast of dry land between the Central African rainforest and the oceanic Sahara.

Much of that country is ethnically black but culturally Arab, the product of nothing short of cultural imperialism among the Arabs, slave traders in the not-so-distant past. The Arab conquest of the Sahel is incomplete, writes Tayler (Facing the Congo, 2001, etc.), but ongoing and scarring. Why not, then, call it imperialism? Well, answers Tayler, “calling the presence of Arabs here unjust amounted to attacking Islam and was impermissible; hence the Africans suffered their anti-Arab grievances with downcast eyes.” Indeed, as Tayler travels through Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, the open anger he encounters is almost always directed against America in the abstract (and sometimes against Americans, namely him, in the particular). The Sahelians’ anger is understandable, Tayler suggests. These poor regions have been badly used, left alone to suffer, and allowed to become failed states bound up as nations mostly out of geographic convenience during colonial times; and whereas France and England should properly feel their wrath, what the desert-dwellers see on television is America as anti-Islamic crusader. “To stop one man, Osama,” yells one Sahelian he encounters at a Chadian oasis, “you destroyed an entire country, Afghanistan—a country of the poorest people on earth. Is that manly—picking on those poor Afghans?” No empty rhetoric, that, and the Sahel, writes Tayler, is a fertile recruiting ground for al Qaeda; Osama bin Laden identified Nigeria as particularly ripe, sick as it is politically yet bursting with oil wealth. Not all of Tayler’s set pieces work, and his travelogue is sometimes as wearying to read as it must have been to research. Still, there are some fine moments here, and Tayler’s righteously indignant arguments against female circumcision should be required reading for the cultural-relativist set.

Moreover, Angry Wind merits a solid audience at the African desks of Western intelligence agencies. There’s trouble brewing in the Sahel, Tayler warns: Don’t say no one told you so.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-33467-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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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