Not just a catalog or reference book, but a highly astute, integrative cultural history.

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A HISTORY OF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL THEATER

A comprehensive critical analysis of significant Broadway shows from the 18th century to The Lion King and beyond.

Stempel (Music/Fordham Univ.) realized he had a near-impossible task, since early documentation is fragmented and that establishing firm categories for shows is difficult, even foolish. Yet he persevered, producing a volume that is informative, enlightening and entertaining. In the beginning, all American productions came from England; not until the late 19th century did a distinctly American musical-theater tradition began to emerge. The author takes a close look at some early productions—e.g., Uncle Tom’s Cabin—then examines the transition from minstrel shows to vaudeville. He spotlights the careers of some significant partnerships, many of whose names are largely forgotten today—e.g., Edward Harrigan, Tony Hart, Joseph Weber and Lew Fields—and turns his attention to the twin influences of operettas and light opera on popular theater in America. Stempel lingers in the 20th century, an undoubtedly fecund period, revisiting Tin Pan Alley and the careers of the superstars, including Al Jolson, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Flo Ziegfeld, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe. The author establishes useful distinctions between the revue, the musical play, opera on Broadway and the Broadway opera, and he crowns Guys and Dolls (1950) as musical comedy’s “masterpiece.” He takes swift glances at Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and alternative musicals, with particular attention to the record-setting The Fantasticks. He examines how Off Broadway productions began moving to Broadway and explores the careers and influences of Sondheim and the so-called “superdirectors” (like Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett). Ending with a consideration of the British invasion and with a category he calls the “movical” (Beauty and the Beast), Stempel stresses that Broadway still has a future.

Not just a catalog or reference book, but a highly astute, integrative cultural history.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-393-06715-6

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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