Mayer’s industry, his obvious good will and humor persuade even those opposed to his politics or leery of his proposed...

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THE JUDGES

A MAJOR EXPLORATION OF AMERICA’S COURT SYSTEM AND THE MANY CHANGES IT MUST MAKE

A brief history, a current assessment and, finally, a plea for reform of America’s courts.

Alexander Hamilton was, perhaps, never more wrong than when he characterized the court system as “the least dangerous branch” of the proposed new American government. Over the past 200 years, the courts have emerged to an astonishing extent as the final arbiters of the rights and duties attendant to our democracy. With this authority comes an enormous capacity for mischief. Who are these people who wield such great power, these judges, some 30,000 of them, who handle 92-million cases a year? Mayer (The Fed, 2001, etc.) answers this question and much more, though he has little patience for high flown talk about the rule of law, the role of law or the glories of the adversary system. Instead, he insists on examining the federal, state and county court system as it is: overburdened, understaffed, out-moded and thoroughly unprepared to address the problems of the 21st century. Intended for the general reader, his well-reported, informal narrative identifies our blind adherence to lofty myth and hopeless politicization of the courts as the chief obstacles to reform. Interpolated throughout are chapters devoted to specialty courts that appear to work well—the federal tax court, the so-called “therapy” drug court in Brooklyn, the Colorado water courts—and these vignettes prepare the reader for Mayer’s proposed remedy. No honest observer of our courts at work can wholly approve of them. We are, he argues, long past the time when our disputes ought be handed over to those who owe their robes to political activity. Writing from a frankly disclosed center-left perspective, he insists that we do more to protect the independence of the judiciary, increase efforts to educate and train judges to judge—quite a different thing from training lawyers to advocate—and move increasingly in the direction of problem-solving, specialty courts, familiar with the discourse of other learned professions.

Mayer’s industry, his obvious good will and humor persuade even those opposed to his politics or leery of his proposed solutions that he just might be right.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-28975-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Truman Talley/St. Martin’s

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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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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