A teacher and leadership consultant takes readers into the crevices of a cult.
Growing up in New York in the 1970s, debut author Kohn had few points of reference through which she could make sense of the world around her. She and her brother, Robbie, were caught in the throes of their parents’ belief in the Unification Church, founded by a self-appointed messiah, Sun Myung Moon (followers were called Moonies). “As a kid you misinterpret the nasty things that happen to and around you, and you somehow believe you’re to blame,” writes the author. “As a young adult, I internalized this more and more. As an older adult, I still can. I get lost in darkness and desperation. I can feel unworthy or damaged or hopeless. I have my scars and insecurities, my fears that feel like they’ll engulf me. I can be washed over with shame.” The austere tone of this introductory passage doesn’t quite represent the vivacity with which Kohn writes about her struggle breaking out of the mold in which her parents trapped her. The author explores her teenage years, when she interacted with peers who knew nothing about her strict behavioral guidelines, the boyfriends who came in and out of her life as her dogma changed, and her shifting relationship with her father. Some qualify the Unification Church as a cult, and Kohn appears to agree with that line of thought. But this is not just an inside-the-cult book; this is the story of a woman who attempted everything in her power to get out of it. “I learned on my journey through self-help programs that I had experienced covert abuse,” writes the author. “Too much had happened to me and around me, and much of it had been off-kilter.”
If writing is an evacuation tool to process and understand abuse, Kohn has done an excellent job of producing a text that oozes with honesty and truth.
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)
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)