An engaging story of success, as told by a man who refused to quit.




A debut work of creative nonfiction about the daunting challenges of higher education and the power of perseverance.

Law school is infamously challenging, and Burnside’s experience was no exception. In the fall of 2002, he matriculated into the Appalachian State Law School in rural Virginia, an unheralded institution that hadn’t even officially received its accreditation at the time. Burnside had unfortunately scored low on his LSAT, though, and so he wasn’t exactly a hotly recruited candidate. His first semester was, to put it mildly, inauspicious; his grades were so low that he narrowly missed expulsion and landed precariously on academic probation. Instead of surrendering to unhappy odds, though, the author experienced a conversion of sorts and decided to apply himself to his studies with renewed vigor. He broke up with his beautiful girlfriend, lost many of his other friends, devoted himself unreservedly to his course work, and slowly started to show improvement. He also encountered many obstacles, some of them shocking. A disgruntled student with a gun, for example, showed up on campus and started shooting, murdering the dean and a professor before he was tackled to the ground. An errant mountain blast forced Burnside to vacate his apartment, causing him to find a quiet refuge for study at a Comfort Inn. Even poison ivy hobbled him. It’s no surprise that the author frequently employs the metaphor of war to describe his tormented attempt at reform: “My Appalachian War continued—and I knew exactly where my enemy was.” Readers will know the cheerful outcome from the beginning: Burnside becomes a licensed lawyer in two states and has a successful career as an attorney. This takes the suspense out of the tale but not its principal power as an account of indomitability in the face of adversity. The prose is informal and unpretentious and will keep readers engaged throughout. Some of the story, the author confesses, is fictionalized, including “much of the dialog and some of the characters,” which is an odd choice, given how dramatic the unvarnished truth is on its own. Nonetheless, this will be an inspirational tale for lawyers and nonlawyers alike.

An engaging story of success, as told by a man who refused to quit.

Pub Date: May 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0986423802

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Cincinnati Book Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2015

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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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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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