A frequently entertaining but equally implausible historical study.

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THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE ART OF INHERITANCE

WAS THE PRESIDENT THAT DONALD TRUMP WORSHIPS A SERIAL KILLER?

A work of scholarly revisionism that attempts to make the case that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was a serial killer.

Jefferson, the third president of the United States and the author of the Declaration of Independence, is generally considered to be of the greatest Americans in history. However, debut author Cooper contends that he was not only a morally dubious character, but also a likely serial murderer. The author compiles a list of people who died under mysterious circumstances or were clearly murdered, who were also in close proximity to Jefferson, and whom Jefferson had significant motive to kill. His principal incentive, Cooper asserts, was the aggrandizement of his inheritance—in some cases, his massive storehouse of books, which would later be donated to the Library of Congress. Jefferson also sometimes killed people out of simple acrimony, Cooper says, such as the journalist James Thomson Callender; three editors of the Virginia Gazette; and John Robinson, a prominent Virginia politician. (In the last case, the author argues that Jefferson even secretly penned his obituary.) Cooper aims to settle other mysteries as well, such as what Jefferson was up to in the second half of 1766, a period that’s all but undocumented. Ultimately, Cooper claims that Jefferson was never considered a suspect due to his fame. Overall, the author offers a thesis that is tantalizingly original, and he combs through a mountain of available documentary evidence with forensic zeal. However, despite his impressively dogged efforts, Cooper’s case remains a thoroughly circumstantial one, and as a result, it’s far from persuasive. Also, the study concludes with a series of appendices, and some of these appear to be entirely unrelated to the author’s principal argument, including a transcript of President Donald Trump’s remarks about a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

A frequently entertaining but equally implausible historical study.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5497-7679-3

Page Count: 287

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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