A slow-driving account of the development and building of Ironhorse, a ``country club community'' in West Palm Beach. ``Designing a golf course,'' Strawn, a devoted golfer and former construction entrepreneur, is told, ``is five percent common sense and ninety-five percent drainage.'' The Ironhorse property, a flat 350 acres in the Florida wetlands, presented an array of challenges to golf-course architect Arthur Hills. The area was drained 20 years ago, prior to legal restraints aimed at maintaining ecological balance. Still, when Alan Sher, a wealthy button manufacturer, purchased an option on the property, he met resistance from ``tree huggers'' and the Audubon Society on the grounds that the course abutted a preserve area, threatening the well-being of the rare Everglade swail kite. Hills and the team of designers and landscape artists and technicians hired by general partner Joshua Muss, who bought control of the project, had to contend with a low water table and the moving or removal of a rich variety of plant life, including bald cypress, Australian pines, sabal palm, and wild myrtle. Legal maneuvering, financing, designing, clearing, selecting and planting fairways and greens, and shaping the 18-hole course took four years. While absorbing in small bites, Strawn's frequent asides and tangential anecdotes on golf literature, the history of golf-course design, botany, architecture, and the failure of the savings-and-loan industry become tiresome. Strawn also gets bogged down in the early financial stages and initial planning of Ironhorse—he's a third of the way through before ground-breaking. Too long by half or, as they say, ``uses a bit too much club.''
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").
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)