A well-researched, entertaining story of one of history’s forgotten standouts.




Townsley’s debut biography tells the story of Steve Hannagan, who rose from humble Midwestern beginnings to pursue an illustrious career in public relations in Miami, eventually becoming known as the “prince of the press agents.”

Hannagan was born in 1899 in a rough section of Lafayette, Indiana. He grew up poor but fastidious, often wearing formal shirts and ties while managing to avoid typical boyhood scuffles. In high school, he talked his way into a reporting job at the local newspaper and quickly became sports editor. He parlayed this experience into a stint with the Indianapolis Star, and from there, he got into the advertising industry, where his savvy and assertiveness were a perfect fit. His campaign for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway made the struggling venue famous. He also ran successful publicity campaigns for the cities of Miami Beach; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Las Vegas as well as Republican presidential candidates between 1940 and 1952 and even Coca-Cola. The key to his success was his fealty to “the Hannagan Way,” a credo of best practices, good instincts, and life lessons that guided all of his business dealings. Townsley explores the details of Hannagan’s life and times, emphasizing his charm, creativity, work ethic, and devotion to truth. One of the best stories here involves Hannagan’s efforts to persuade Al Capone to move out of Miami Beach, as residents feared that the gangster’s presence would compromise their safety—and depress property values. Hannagan is shown to have treated everyone with respect, from a low-ranking clerk in his ad agency to such famous figures as Henry Ford, Jack Dempsey, and Walter Winchell. Throughout, Townsley makes it clear that Hannagan wasn’t simply a nice guy; the author also shows how his subject’s considerate treatment of others gave him a competitive edge. The author also evokes 1930s and ’40s America with particular precision and skill. This makes it surprising, however, that the book’s editing is occasionally uneven; some photos lack captions, and the bibliography’s excessively long website addresses can be daunting.

A well-researched, entertaining story of one of history’s forgotten standouts.

Pub Date: June 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4575-6371-3

Page Count: 359

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2018

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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)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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