Garrett, Newsday and former National Public Radio reporter, has written an excellent encyclopedic history—and jeremiad—of man versus microbe in the last decades of the century.
"California School Becomes Notorious for Epidemic of TB.'' "In a Panic, Rwandans Die in Stampede.'' No book about to be launched in 1994 could ask for better confirmation of its somber thesis than the front-page headlines in a recent edition of the New York Times. Only a few years ago science was celebrating an end to plagues and an extended life span, but now it appears that we are losing the battle against infectious illness. Microbes mutate as fast as companies synthesize new drugs to combat them. Jet travel, the sexual revolution, and overpopulation are just a few of the whole-earth changes that favor the survival of old and new bugs. In chapter by chilling chapter, Garrett recounts the stories of deaths from Machupo, Lassa, and Ebola diseases—viral infections decimating small villages in South America and Africa. In the best tradition of Berton Rouech, each account is a dramatic narrative with heroes and heroines: the doctors and epidemiologists who round up the usual suspects (rats, mice, bugs) to come up with answers. Modernity brings ironic twists—reused syringes, recycled air conditioning—to amplify infection. But the ultimate compounding factor is a "Thirdworldization,'' an ugly coinage to describe an ugly situation in which the inhabitants of poor nations are malnourished, displaced, terrorized, demoralized, e.g., Rwanda. Garrett chronicles AIDS, the spread of antibiotic-resistant TB and malaria, Legionnaire's disease, last year's re-emergence of Hanta viruses among the Navajo, along with chapters on microbial genetics and resistance. Prejudice and politics are given their due from clearly liberal Garrett, and a glimmer of a solution comes in the form of eternal vigilance and surveillance.
One does not like to apply the phrase too often in a book review, but here is a volume that should be required reading for policy makers and health professionals.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
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)