Superb cultural history, pulling together many strands of literary, judicial and societal developments into a smoothly woven...

THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK

THE BATTLE FOR JAMES JOYCE’S ULYSSES

Modernism’s “battle against an obsolete civilization,” encapsulated in the struggle to publish one taboo-shattering masterpiece.

In his sharp, well-written debut, Birmingham (History and Literature/Harvard Univ.) reminds us that the artistic experiments of James Joyce (1882-1941) were part of a larger movement to throw off Victorian social, sexual and political shackles. Indeed, authorities in England, Ireland and America were quite sure that Joyce’s shocking fiction was, like the feminists, anarchists, socialists and other reprobates who presumably read it, an attempt to undermine the moral foundations of Western society. Guilty as charged, replied the diverse group that supported the impoverished Joyce as he struggled to write Ulysses while wandering across Europe during and after World War I, plagued by increasingly grim eye problems (described here in gruesome detail). Ezra Pound advocated for Joyce with his literary contacts on both sides of the Atlantic, and Dora Marsden and Harriet Weaver gave him his first break in the English avant-garde magazine The Egoist. American iconoclasts Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap risked punitive fines and jail terms to publish chapters of Ulysses in The Little Review, adopting a defiant stance that dismayed lawyer John Quinn, who had scant sympathy for radicals but thought Joyce was a genius and that his book must be defended. The clandestine edition of Ulysses published in Paris by Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company in 1922 became the identifying badge of cultural insurgents everywhere and the target of confiscation and burnings by censors until Judge John Woolsey’s landmark 1933 decision permitted the novel to be sold in the U.S. and dramatically revised the legal concept of obscenity. Birmingham makes palpable the courage and commitment of the rebels who championed Joyce, but he grants the censors their points of view as well in this absorbing chronicle of a tumultuous time.

Superb cultural history, pulling together many strands of literary, judicial and societal developments into a smoothly woven narrative fabric.

Pub Date: June 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59420-336-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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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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