HITLER'S DIPLOMAT

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP

What can a celebrated fashion designer tell you about the history of Germany's Third Reich? You'd be surprised. Weitz (Friends in High Places, 1982, etc.) grew up in Berlin's haut monde, fled the Nazis with his family in 1938, and returned as an OSS spy five years later. He hasn't forgotten much, and succeeds in putting a personal spin on his account of Hitler's foreign minister. Ribbentrop (1893-1946) was a go-getter from the start, a bright boy of modest means and boundless ambition who ended up with the Nazis largely because they made him the best offer. The son of an army officer, he started a wine-exporting business as a young man and joined the army in 1914. After the war, he threw himself into the social whirl of Berlin, cultivating the friendship of the high and mighty. One of his biggest catches was Franz von Papen, who became chancellor under the von Hindenburg government. In 1932, von Papen asked Ribbentrop to meet with Hitler to convince him to form a coalition government. Hitler refused—but converted Ribbentrop to National Socialism in the process. Among the Nazis, Ribbentrop was an anomaly—most of the Nazi leadership was of proletarian or lower-middle-class stock—and he was constantly at pains to demonstrate his loyalty. This led to many diplomatic fiascos (such as that when Ribbentrop, after presenting his credentials to the king of England, gave a Nazi salute) and ultimately cost him his life at Nuremberg. Weitz succeeds brilliantly in describing the atmosphere of the period and the social background of the events that defined the age. His portrayal of the Nazi hierarchy is remarkable in that he sees most of its members as spineless toadies without any ideology of their own—and Ribbentrop as an exemplar of the type. The Faustian elements of opportunism have rarely been so well defined. A splendid and horrifying romp through the culverts of modern history. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-62152-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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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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