A well-researched and authoritative history of a Cuban exile who became president.

Before "Cuba Libre"

THE MAKING OF CUBA'S FIRST PRESIDENT, TOMÁS ESTRADA PALMA

A debut work examines one of the first leaders of Cuba after its independence from Spain.

In this history book, García shares the story of Tomás Estrada Palma, who served as Cuba’s president in the first decade of the 20th century. The volume opens in central New York, where Estrada Palma was living in exile at the time of his election to the presidency, and follows him on his return to his native country before the text diverts into a brief biography in which García does an excellent job of distinguishing the known facts of his life from the many rumors and half-truths that have arisen from the limited information available about his early years. The book also covers Estrada Palma’s involvement in politics and the fight for independence from Spain, leading to his capture as a prisoner of war, and his peripatetic career in Europe and the Americas following his eventual release. The author explains the challenges Cuba’s would-be liberators faced under international law as well as the importance of the lobbying and public relations campaigns Estrada Palma oversaw while living in the United States (“The details of the suffering of the Cuban civilians at the hands of the Spaniards” were publicized “widely by Estrada Palma and the Junta, gaining sympathy to their cause by more and more segments of American public opinion and more and more politicians”). The years after his return to Cuba, including his presidency and resignation, are addressed only briefly in the final chapter; García writes that the book “is limited to his life ‘outside Cuba’ which is least known.” Eliding this period of history, which led to one of several occupations of Cuba by the United States that occurred between the Spanish-American War and the Cuban Revolution, leaves the reader unfamiliar with Cuban history at something of a disadvantage, though it does permit a far more focused narrative than would be possible with greater context. García’s research is evident throughout, with sources thoroughly cited and historical photographs appearing frequently to provide illustration. The author delivers a solid and clearly written summation of one chapter in Cuba’s history, with an emphasis on the long-standing connections to the United States that have shaped the island’s fate.

A well-researched and authoritative history of a Cuban exile who became president.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4787-7391-7

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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