LONDON

An elegantly idiosyncratic, leisurely and—at its most successful—revealing stroll through London's highways and byways that transcends the coffee-table genre. A long-time art critic for the the New York Times, British- born Russell is an erudite guide to the city he made his home for over 50 years (if one at times rather too fond of the sound of his own voice). He takes the reader on a wholly personal, unsystematic, yet surprisingly thorough ramble through London's long history and its labyrinthine social topographies as well as its protean physical aspect. Though he occasionally lapses into travelogue bromides (``there is no better school of life than the streets of a great city''), more often Russell succeeds in finding neglected perspectives that help us reimagine a city made overfamiliar by mass tourism and media: a history of London's 19th-century salon culture, an explanation of what goes on behind the closed doors of the city through a history of its architecture, and, throughout, a refreshing emphasis on London as the living and working home of millions of ordinary folk rather than a picturesque museum. Having come to know the city in its imperial twilight, Russell does sometimes fall prey to nostalgic Edwardianisms (for instance, in his rose-tinted and pompous descriptions of Parliament); but at his best he combines the historian's long view, the aesthete's appreciative gaze, and the social critic's inquiring eye to paint a bracingly complex picture of a city whose heritage continues to evolve—such as his account of the Docklands transformation from commercial and imperial hub to the sometimes combustible social laboratory of the new London. At its unstuffy best, Russell's ``tour'' is brought to vivid life by his unfailingly apposite selection of paintings, engravings, architects' drawings and photographs, in general excellently reproduced (though on occasion large-scale images have been reduced beyond comfortable scrutiny). Russell for the most part offers the armchair traveler and the inquiring mind alike five-star service. (183 illustrations, 86 in color) (Book-of-the-Month Club dividend selection)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8109-3570-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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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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