THE MYSTERIOUS HISTORY OF COLUMBUS

AN EXPLORATION OF THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGACY

An exciting probe of the great discoverer and the countless enigmas surrounding his life and legacy. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science correspondent Wilford (Mars Beckons, 1990; The Riddle of the Dinosaur, 1985; The Mapmakers, 1981) sifts through the legends that have encrusted Columbus ``to review and assess the numerous questions that persist and cause such heated dispute among historians.'' No mean task: the proud and secretive navigator left a host of enemies and the wispiest of paper trails at his death, with his subsequent reputation veering wildly between neglect, admiration (Samuel Eliot Morison's Admiral of the Ocean Sea), and revisionism (Kirkpatrick Sale's Conquest of Paradise). In his superbly balanced portrait, Wilford depicts the navigator as an intelligent, indomitable, courageous mariner hopelessly at sea as a colonial governor. Acknowledging that ``the burden of the practices Columbus initiated or condoned weighs heavily on his reputation in history,'' he examines with moral sensitivity the admiral's responsibility as progenitor of the Black Legend, Spain's ``burden of violence and destructive greed'' that included the enslavement and killing of Native Americans. Even more useful, however, are his discussions of recent archival and archaeological discoveries related to Columbus, including his origins, how he conceived his plan to discover the Orient by sailing west, why Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain supported his quest, his initial landfall in 1492, his ships, even where he lies buried. Most fascinating of all, Wilford speculates that Columbus saw himself as God's messenger, sent to help Spain recover the Holy Land lost to the Moslems. A crisp, highly readable account of Columbus as man and symbol, and of how the first momentous encounter between the Old and New Worlds has been interpreted and reinterpreted over the last five centuries. (Three maps.)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-40476-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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