Romm (Research Scholar/Rocky Mountain Institute) details a strategy for restoring American economic primacy. At the close of what he says have been five decades of obsession with ``national security,'' Romm proposes that broader meaning be given to that term. He argues that economic and environmental issues pose as great a threat to our nation right now as any political enemy—and that reversing the country's economic decline is as important as military preeminence. Romm calls for a national industrial policy, for federal R&D spending to concentrate more on civilian projects and to develop critical technologies, and for a reexamination of progressive energy sources like wind or solar power, rejected as inefficient in their technological infancy. He also points out that, in 1970, photovoltaic cells needed to convert sunlight into electricity cost $60 per kilowatt- hour each to produce; they now cost 30 cents apiece. Far from being antigrowth, Romm contends, a progressive energy policy will help revitalize the economy. Behind his suggestions lies a call for pragmatism and efficiency and the widespread application of the O- O-D-A Loop (observe situations; orient oneself to them; make a decision; and take action), developed by an Air Force colonel and the reason, Romm says, for our success in the Gulf War. The specter of Japanese economic strength is constantly called up, but Romm doesn't offer the typical anti-Japanese screed; rather, he calls for reorienting our foreign-aid budget away from military priorities towards fostering development; ending global warming; and increasing exports. Finally, Romm says that the Pentagon must be more realistic about distributing its reduced budget. Well researched, thoughtful, evenhanded (if repetitive at times)—and distinguished by its wealth of detailed suggestions rather than rhetoric.
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)
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)