A charmingly personal account of biologist Houle's work with peregrine falcons. Because of its speed, power, and docility, the peregrine falcon has for centuries been favored by sporting falconers. The black market for peregrines (one can bring as much as $10,000) in combination with encroachments on the species' habitat, and the deadliness of DDT throughout the food chain, brought near- extinction by the 1970's. Sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Houle's Chimney Rock study, begun in 1985, was designed to document the ``habitat requirements'' of nesting peregrines: primarily, the number of square miles essential for hunting the prey necessary to survival. Though ``Jenny,'' female half of only one of seven surviving pairs in the Rockies, inexplicably disappears, and three of the five nestlings have died, Houle and her teammate, Alex, using radios and a Forest Service garbage truck to track, learn that ``King Arthur,'' Jenny's mate, ranges up to 10 miles from the nest and hunts a 20-square-mile area to provide enough food for his two sons, ``Bold Leopold'' and ``Albert.'' The two fledglings take on distinct personalities as Houle describes their growth, initial ventures away from the nest, and spectacular if often clumsy flying lessons. Their first attempts at ``stooping,'' or diving, are both comical and harrowing. All is not tranquil, however, as Houle finds herself the target of irate residents who favor the tourism-hungry US Forest Service and developers who plan to build cabins, lookout stations, and a tramway to draw visitors to the area. In addition, the site is covered with Anasazi Indian ruins. The controversy culminates in harassment from some of the residents and construction workers and, finally, the destruction and theft of Houle's equipment and personal belongings. Loosely organized and occasionally sparse on detail, but an enlightening cautionary take nonetheless.
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)