A solid and entertaining reference book packed with cultural highlights and pivotal moments from a wide array of sources.

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DEAD SERIOUS AND LIGHTHEARTED

THE MEMORABLE WORDS OF MODERN AMERICA

From the Chance of a Lifetime series , Vol. 1

This first installment of an American history series covers 1957 to 1976.

Borgen (The Relevance of Reason, 2013) bravely undertakes the herculean task of presenting an overview of recent U.S. history. In the book’s early chapters, it is clear that he recognizes the challenges inherent in curating such a gargantuan project, taking great pains to justify the setting of parameters. First, the author neatly summarizes the problematic nature of history as a discipline of study. Even the choice of an official start date for what he terms Modern America is a cause for much understandable hand-wringing. He eventually settles on his selection: “In 1957, even amidst the consumerism, confidence, and enthusiasm for all things American, the ferment of change was starting. The winds of change were everywhere.” Borgen also points to the cultural effects of increased life expectancy, whereby four generations coexist, often uneasily, which creates room for misunderstandings and frames of reference that do not match up neatly, a phenomenon that he terms “multi-generational ignorance.” Thus, the author asserts, this project can serve a dual purpose: A younger audience encounters information perhaps for the first time, and older readers revisit past memories, with both groups hopefully gaining a broader perspective. As Borgen begins to move through the designated years, some portions of the text have the feel of an almanac, with lists that include bestselling books, Oscar-nominated films, highly rated television programs, and popular slogans from the worlds of politics and advertising. But each year also features a more substantive section titled “Memorable Words from Speeches, Books, Writings, and Other Sources.” Crucially, the author follows each of these entries with a concise explanation of “context, meaning, and impact.” Likewise, he includes information about seminal books that appeared within the same year, at times producing delightful juxtapositions like these three titles from 1957: Atlas Shrugged, On the Road, and The Cat in the Hat. While readers may notice the occasional minor error—such as rendering the TV series Charlie’s Angels as “Charley’s Angels”—the volume retains a depth that goes far beyond simple nostalgia. The work’s approach to the study of history may inspire the search for commonalities without erasing differences. As a bonus, Borgen provides helpful ancillary resources, including an index, 376 endnotes, and many appendices. 

A solid and entertaining reference book packed with cultural highlights and pivotal moments from a wide array of sources.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9997299-0-8

Page Count: 526

Publisher: Schmitt & Brody Publishers

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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