Amram (Finding Me—and Them, 2017, etc.) delivers a memoir on his childhood in the thick of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
This work is at once a political history of the anti-war left in Minnesota—spearheaded by the rise of U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy—and a nostalgic look back at Amram’s childhood in a politically active household. On the historical side, Amram provides readers with background on the United States’ increasing involvement in the Vietnam War and the political machinations that led to military escalation. He also delineates the formation and development of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, which eventually became part of the left wing of the national Democratic Party. These two stories dovetail in the lead-up to the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention, in which the DFL attempted to help propel McCarthy to the presidential nomination and put an anti-war resolution on the party’s plank. Following Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s nomination and the Democrats’ eventual loss, the author chronicles the nation’s continued anti-war activism, up to the 1972 presidential election. Amram grew up as the adopted son of two Minnesota political organizers, Barbara and Fred Amram, who were heavily involved in the movements he describes; he offers readers his reminiscences of their work and how it influenced his political awakening. The book also covers his recovery from an accident that left him comatose for six weeks and his extensive physical rehabilitation. Amram’s prose shifts between cleareyed history and poetic memoir, but he doesn’t quite find a balance between the two. The history sections, though compelling, can become repetitive, restating facts and events and overusing lists of voting results. However, the book is most successful when Amram focuses on the ineffable qualities of his early years: “We worshiped the echoes of our summers, trying to stretch the evenings out until school began again.” In these moments, he highlights singular moments of his childhood, from neighborhood games that he invented as a child to idyllic summers that he spent at the family’s cabin.
A book that offers affecting early memories but too often gets bogged down in explaining later history.
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)