A strong addition, unobtrusively narrated, to a well-covered subject.

THE KENNEDYS AT WAR

1937-1945

A thorough and lively history of America’s first family during WWII.

For the Kennedys, the years leading up to and during the second world war were formative—such is the theme that guides Renehan (The Lion’s Pride, 1998, etc.) in his ably crafted history of the operatic family. He focuses most of his attention on the Kennedy men, specifically Joe, Joe Jr., and “Jack,” although he does give mention to younger siblings—and some time is spent on Kathleen. But it’s the father and his heirs that drive Renehan’s narrative. Joseph Kennedy, family patriarch, sought to turn his wealth into political power. Appointed American Ambassador to England in return for years of Democratic loyalty and fundraising, Kennedy Sr. saw the office as an opportunity to gain the social acceptance that snobby Protestant powers at home had denied him. Ambassador Kennedy felt he had arrived, and attention from the press made him bold. He allowed himself to flirt with the idea of running for president, while Roosevelt—who understood Kennedy well—made sure he didn’t cause trouble. Kennedy’s stance on the war soon made him irrelevant. At the Court of St. James, he harped on the inevitability of British defeat and counseled that Hitler be appeased no matter the cost. Neither message went over well, and Kennedy soon bitterly found himself at home, unemployed and out of touch. Meanwhile, Joe Jr. lived with the burden of his father’s expectations. Competitive and intellectually clumsy, Joe Jr. struggled to grow into the man he and his father wanted him to be. Harvard and Harvard Law were struggles, his stints in England made him appear clumsily American, and his efforts at advancement in war were forced and ultimately deadly. Jack, on the other hand, contrasted his brother’s effort with ease. The grace that would later mark his presidency was evident in his youth. Despite chronically poor health, everything seemed to come easy to the second son. School passed effortlessly—his thesis was published to acclaim—and heroism, when it came, fit him well.

A strong addition, unobtrusively narrated, to a well-covered subject.

Pub Date: April 16, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-50165-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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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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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