An intriguing book about the continuing evolution of civilization.



Solayappan searches for an ethical center of modernity in this debut work of philosophy.

The modern world came into being around A.D. 1500, when economic and technological developments in Europe caused the West to advance at an accelerated pace from the rest of the world. Prior to that time, the globe’s major pre-modern civilizations existed at more or less the same level of maturity. The four philosophies that provided them with their traditions— Confucian, Indian, Islamic, and Christian—had been “perfect and ethical in their inception,” though each had then “degenerated fairly soon.” The major philosophical engines of the modern world—European Enlightenment values, Marxism—have been based in pragmatism rather than morality. In searching for an ethical modernity, Solayappan focuses his attention on the Indian independence movement. “With the advent of modernity,” the author writes, “it was only in India, during the first half of the 20th century, that a discourse on ethics was carried out in the public sphere.” In the cauldron of modern colonialism, Solayappan explores how an ethical movement fared in the modern world and traces its ramifications for the nature of truth and the chances for a peaceful world. The author has a natural, professorial prose style and is adept at organizing huge swaths of history and human experience into easily digestible concepts. While his thesis is never fully apparent (even by the book’s end), his ruminations are compelling enough to keep the reader more or less content to follow his train of thought. His prescriptions for how to create a more ethical world are as attractive as they are impractical (“America needs to do three things to transform its capitalist system overnight into an ethical system”), but the book succeeds as a work of imaginative thinking as opposed to a manual for immediate change. Solayappan asks the reader to question the way that things are, to consider how they have been, and to always remember that this moment—though one of great fluctuation —is but a brief one in the long history of human self-improvement.

An intriguing book about the continuing evolution of civilization.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-02804-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sai Publishers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2016

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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 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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