Voticky recounts his Czechoslovakian family’s escape from fascism and communism and his later life as a Canadian pilot in this memoir.
The author was born in 1934 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during a time when dark political forces threatened to swallow Europe whole. His Jewish parents, Arnold and Annamarie, after witnessing the degradation of Jews at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis, prudently prepared for escape, funneling money to Annamarie’s brother in Switzerland. They fled to Italy, but Arnold temporarily stayed behind, and when he found himself unable to obtain an exit visa, the whole family returned to be with him. After Arnold narrowly evaded arrest, the family once again took flight back to Italy—this time, to catch on ocean liner to Shanghai by way of Bombay and Manila. The author, only 6 years old at the time, attended an American school in China, where he not only learned English, but also cultivated a lasting admiration for the United States. However, the Japanese eventually invaded, and, as Jews, the family was relegated to living in a segregated ghetto until after the war, when they could return to Prague. Once back home, Voticky learned of some of his extended family members’ grim fates in death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. Once the Soviets took over, the family was compelled to run yet again, this time to Montreal. The author lucidly captures the extraordinary drama of his family’s lives as they were caught between two of the 20th century’s worst tyrannies. His story is a stirringly inspirational one, as well; he tells of being so awed by the spectacle of American fighter planes in 1945 that he vowed to become a pilot—and he eventually did, for a commercial airline. The memoir ends with a thoughtful and emotionally poignant reflection on immigration in the United States. Voticky’s account of his adult life is less cinematic than that of his youth, and he can sometimes overburden the reader with minutely detailed descriptions of his aviation career and training. Still, this book remains a gripping slice of history overall.
An often stunning story of personal triumph amid the political turbulence of the 20th century.
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)