ROMANCING VIETNAM

INSIDE THE BOAT COUNTRY

As this tedious first-person account of an extended jaunt through the Socialist Republic of Vietnam attests, not every Englishman is a gifted travel writer. Journalist Wintle (The Financial Times, etc.) spent the last three months of 1989 on a self-imposed assignment to capture ``the real Vietnam,'' i.e., the Communist-ruled nation whose image, he was convinced, had been indelibly blurred by Hollywood's war films. Whatever the merits of his approach, Wintle did not come back with any particularly vivid or valid perspectives. Despite having traversed the dirt-poor SRV from north to south during the dawn of doi moi (an Asian analogue of perestroika), he was able to reach few conclusions. Nor did his closely chaperoned contacts with the likes of Le Duc Tho, General Vo Nguyen Giap, and Vu Ky (Ho Chi Minh's erstwhile secretary) yield him insights, much less a coherent, communicable perception of either where the country is heading or what it's about. The author's chronological narrative focuses on the quotidian frustrations experienced by a Westerner attempting to deal with a closed society's petty bureaucrats. For most readers, a little of this supercilious bosh will go a very long way. Equally unappealing is Wintle's penchant for including a surfeit of trivial detail on his personal reactions and ailments. Among other irksome cases in point, the author reports: ``After lunch I visit the new international shop in Trang Tien Street, to buy a bottle of authentic scotch for tomorrow's office thingy,'' meaning his goodbye party at the Information Ministry in Hanoi. A bad trip to the extent that the tour guide's self-absorption leaves him too little space and time to provide worthwhile commentary on a presumably intriguing land. (Eight pages of humdrum photos, including two of a dour-looking Wintle standing cheek by jowl with indigneous notables.)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-40621-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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